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Leaving the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock

October 4, 2003 through January 11, 2004


An exhibition including approximately 45 paintings and drawings by American master George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) and close to 20 works by his contemporaries will be on view October 4, 2003 through January 11, 2004 at the Terra Museum of American Art in Leaving the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock. This is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the years Bellows spent in the culturally rich artists' colony of Woodstock, New York, a period of tremendous growth and development that changed his palette and style significantly, and a time when he produced some of his best work.

Unlike most of the artists of his generation, Bellows received all of his artistic training in the United States. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, he left Ohio State University during his third year to pursue a career as an artist and eventually moved to New York City in 1904 to enroll at the New York School of Art. His promise was apparent early - Bellows was the youngest member ever elected to the National Academy of Design even though his art was considered far from academic. He was associated with the Ashcan School - a group of artists noted for brash, unglamorized views of city life. Bellows was instrumental in organizing the 1913 Armory Show, a showcase for radical developments that indelibly changed the American art scene.

"Although Bellows is best known for his New York City subjects, this exhibition shows the expressive Woodstock landscapes and portraits to be rich with personal meaning only now being explored," stated Elizabeth Kennedy, Curator, Terra Museum of American Art. "It was in Woodstock where Bellows found the perfect combination of nature and neighborhood that imbued his work with the maturity and vision that characterized those final five years."

From 1920 to 1924, Bellows and his family spent summers and falls in Woodstock, within easy reach of New York, where he was inspired by the mountains, lakes, and fields surrounding the tiny village that was fast becoming a center for landscape artists. Bellows ventured out regularly to paint the local scenery, often doing sketches that he took back to New York during the winter to use as studies for finished paintings. As well, Woodstock interiors appear as backdrops for well-known portraits of his family and friends, such as Elinor, Jean and Anna, 1920 and experimental forays into portraiture, with Nude with Hexagonal Quilt, 1924.

The Woodstock community of artists was experiencing phenomenal growth, reaching 20 to 25 percent of the population during the summer. Many who went to study at the Art Students League's summer session stayed permanently. The Woodstock Artists Association was formed in 1919, the year before Bellow's first visit, and included among its members and exhibitors artists working in both traditional and more experimental styles. While Bellows's Woodstock paintings, drawings and both traditional and more experimental styles. While Bellows's Woodstock paintings, drawings and prints are the focus of the exhibition, works by his contemporaries are also included. Andrew Dasburg, Leon Kroll and Bellows's former teacher, Robert Henri, for example, brought to Woodstock their knowledge of European trends. Bellows's proximity to his fellow artists and their work clearly contributed to the rapid evolution of his own style. Bellows's succumbed to an untimely death after surgery for a ruptured appendix at the age of forty-two.

Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock is organized by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York. The tour is organized and circulated by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles. This exhibition is underwritten by the Henry Luce Foundation, Joan and Harold Feinbloom and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency. A full-color catalogue accompanies Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock. After Chicago, the exhibition will travel to the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens in February 2004 and the Vero Beach Museum of Art in September 2004.

Leaving the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock is part of MODERN MATTERS, a series of exhibitions and programs spanning summer 2003 through fall 2004 at the Terra Museum of American Art. MODERN MATTERS presents fresh perspectives on early modernism in American art.


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