Drawings of an American Master Featured in New Exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Posted on November 2nd, 2007

Milwaukee, WI, November 27, 2007— He was a college drop-out at 22, a member of the National Academy at 27, the country’s most accomplished lithographer at 35, and dead of appendicitis at 43. George Bellows is now an American legend whose powerful drawings of early-twentieth-century America reflect his singular genius. For just 10 weeks, January 10­-March 23, 2008, an exhibition of his works will be on view in the Koss Gallery at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library is an exhibition of more than 55 drawings and lithographs that have not been seen together publicly since the 1950s. The works come from the collection of the Boston Public Library, the single most important collector of Bellows’ graphic art in the United States. Pieces on display in the exhibition include the dramatic drawing Preaching (Billy Sunday), the preparatory drawing and the final lithograph for Preliminaries to the Big Bout, as well as intimate studies of Bellows’ wife and daughters. Lithographs from the Milwaukee Art Museum’s own Collection and those from a local private collection will complement the holdings from the Boston Public Library.

George Bellows was known for painting urban scenes, and he was often linked to the Ash Can School, along with artists such as Robert Henri and John Sloan. His success began in 1904 when he moved to New York City from Columbus, Ohio. In the next five years, he immediately rose from the early years of art school to critical and commercial success, culminating in his election as associate of the National Academy of Design in 1909.

Bellows, perhaps, is best known for his scenes of modern American life, ranging from cityscapes to beach scenes to the excitement of the boxing ring and racetrack. His contributions to American landscape painting and portraiture are equally notable. The Powerful Hand of George Bellows provides viewers, who may be familiar with only one or two of his most popular drawings, with the opportunity to see the full breadth of his talent like never before.

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library is organized by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, Washington. D.C., and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Mary Weaver Chapin, assistant curator of prints and drawings. The exhibition travels to the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine (April 10-June 1, 2008), San Antonio Museum of Art (June 21-August 31, 2008), and Boston Public Library (September 22-December 1, 2008).

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library at the Milwaukee Art Museum is funded through a generous gift from the Caxambas Foundation with additional support from the Phoebe R. and John D. Lewis Foundation.

Reception and Lecture
Thursday, January 10, 5:30-8 p.m., lecture: 6:15 p.m.
Mark the opening of the exhibition and join guest curator Robert Conway in Lubar Auditorium for a lecture on this celebrated artist. Free with general admission.

Gallery Talk
The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library
Friday, January 18, 6 p.m. (gallery night)-free
Tuesday, January 29, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 4, 1:30 p.m.
Join curator Mary Weaver Chapin for an introduction to these rarely exhibited drawings. 

The Powerful Hand of George Bellows: Drawings from the Boston Public Library
by Robert Conway
Featuring drawings and related lithographs by the great American realist George Bellows, this book illustrates Bellows’ ingenious combination of graphic media and his contributions to American landscape painting, portraiture, and scenes of modern life. It is available for purchase in the Milwaukee Art Museum store ($35/$31.50 Members). Softcover, 159 pages.

Museum Hours and Ticket Prices
The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when the Museum stays open until 8 p.m. (supported by Greater Milwaukee Foundation). Tickets are $8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 students, and free for children 12 and under. This ticket includes general admission to the Collection galleries. Group tour reservations and discounts are also available; please call 414-224-3842. To become a Museum Member and receive year-round benefits such as free general admission and complimentary feature exhibition tickets, call 414-224-3284. For more information, visit www.mam.org.