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Saturday, January 26, 2013

George Bellows

Never did I  think I's  spend so much time -- in hours, that is -- in this exhibition, having known only the Boxing scenes, and one of the River Rats (Nice, Bellows saying it wasn't the naked boys that bothered the critics, but the painting, right on). But how not to be totally flummoxed by the wet-into-wet paint of those water works, really a fitting term, for the rush and sweep and water like the 1913 Churn and Break, where you can absolutely feel the roar of the water, so loud that it drowned out the other visitors, happily ensconced in their headsets. Quelle energie, and in every one of the water things. I especially loved the one from the viewpoint of Monhegan Island (an island I love anyway), where you can see Smutty Nose, if that's the name of it, and it all feels like an epic in a small space.

What a tennis game: in that 1926 Tennis Tournament, where you see the left leg of the guy receiving the ball suspended right up in the air, turning away from you (and him) to such a degree that  the sole of that left foot is completely in view, flat right up against your looking. Speaking of contrapposto!

Well, of course you are, I was, anyone would be riveted by the portraits, Geraldine Lee no. 2 of 1914, in her pink, yes, In Her Pink (he'd seen Matisse, sure 'nuff, says the wall text, at the Armory Show in 1913), but especially I was knocked out by that wonderful wife of an Emma at the Piano, also 1914, heavens above, just the way you see just her right eye and that eyebrow, good lord, and that right hand on the piano, enough to balance the left leg of that tennis player so much in the air.... All the Emmas, in fact, in a bright blue gown (yes, yes) and in a purple dress and a black print in 1919, and later, 1923 with her children. So  very wonderful, that Emma.

And Mrs. T,, that is, Mrs. Mary Brown Tyler, in her 70's, in 1919 and in her wine silk and in her wedding dress of a cream silk, now that's a lady. (a slightly different age, indeed, from Isabel Archer in James' portrait of that younger lady), how grand, these so dissimilar ideas of a lady. What is a lady anyway.

Of course the end of life, his life, his Woodstock works are different, like The White Horse of 1922,  and of a different sort, but I love his going out with his pals Charles Rosen and Eugene Speicher every single day to paint, with the wheelbarrow on the running board of the car, and not getting home, the three of them, until dark with their stuff.

Why does it remind me of beloved Roger Fry carrying around his immense cooking pot on his bike all over France...Maybe you carry what you love most or need most, could be that's the same thing.

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