That American painter George Bellows (1882-1925) packed a punch is shown to dramatic effect in this admiring introduction to his life and work.
A career in art won out over sports, though Bellows’ athletic prowess informed a number of his paintings, including several boxing scenes, among his most celebrated works. Bellows differed from many artists before him, preferring not to paint the pretty but instead executing on canvas gritty scenes that reflected early-20th-century New York City at its most real. The book’s excellent reproductions of Bellows’ work will excite young readers and budding artists. They will appreciate the vigorous brushstrokes as much as the child-appealing contents and titles of some of the works. Most stimulating to would-be artists is the author’s emphasis on the idea that drove Bellows: Art is everywhere—in the streets and in citizens’ bustling, everyday lives and activities. Not surprisingly, beauty is easily found in these paintings, even those depicting a construction site and tenements. Some softer work is displayed, too, including tender paintings of Bellows’ wife and younger daughter. Burleigh’s robust voice suits his subject perfectly. He conveys immediacy and excitement by writing in the present tense and makes Bellows interesting and familiar without presuming prior knowledge. Archival photographs complement the reproductions of Bellows’ works in illustrating the brief book.
A fine portrait of an artist not on everyone’s radar but whose work can be readily understood and appreciated by youngsters. (list of museums exhibiting Bellows’ work, source notes, bibliography, illustration credits, index) (Biography. 8-12)