George Bellows, The Eight, and the American Scene
George Bellows arrived in New York in the early years of the twentieth century and made his first paintings in 1904 while a student of Robert Henri. The major themes of his career emerged almost immediately: urban views, vigorous landscapes, vivid portraits, and sporting subjects that struck a chord with the public despite their unvarnished interpretation of American life.
Although Bellows was not a member of the group known as "the Eight" -- a loose association of painters who first exhibited together at the Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1908 -- his work paralleled in subject and style. With the members of "the Eight" -- Henri, John Sloan, Arthur B. Davies, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and William Glackens -- Bellows participated in a movement to confront academic painting with a progressive, revitalized American Art. A number of these painters, including Bellows, had worked as newspaper artists and shared a graphic figural style as well as an interest in describing contemporary life. Others, such as Arthur B. Davies, preferred to paint scenes from the imagination, a challenge which Bellows confronted in literary subjects and in his images of the first World War.
Bellows's versatility also extended to lithography. He was an outstanding draftsman whose prints equal his achievements as a painter. His portrayal of the American scene in the first decades of the century combined a directness of vision and approach with a perceptible energy that continues to resonate in his work.