By JON CARAMANICA in The New York Times
Published: December 19, 2012
ONE recent afternoon, two men were sitting in facing chairs in the small below-grade space that serves as the storefront of Fine and Dandy, a shop specializing in the accouterments of the well-dressed life.
Behind the desk in the rear corner of the store was Matt Fox, one of the store’s owners, his hair cropped close, wearing a navy blazer with gray
elbow patches, a shirt with a faint checked-stripe pattern, and a dark, small bow tie. In the other seat was a gentleman who goes by the name Dandy Wellington. He wore earth tones, mostly, a light-colored waistcoat under a rope-brown suit. They were talking, naturally, about Fats Waller. And Chet Baker. And using Pandora to create playlists that emphasize the 1930s and 1940s.
So it’s not quite all vintage at Fine and Dandy — only the ideas. The execution, though, is extremely modern. The store is full of gorgeous house-brand accessories: ties, ascots, braces and so on. Need spats? Available in red or gray wool felt ($65).
I went with the esteemed jazzbo-metalhead Ben Ratliff — like myself, inclined toward dandyism without feeling the need to go whole hog. It’s not religion, merely a guidebook to solving small everyday problems.
This is where Fine and Dandy excels, even if it would prefer a bit of zealotry in its crowd. At every turn was a piece that would improve your outfit, and probably your attitude. I loved the floral suspenders ($59) — one pair light blue and purple on white, the other in pink on black — and also the leather belts with embroidered marlins ($49). The bright-colored ascots ($45) reminded me of the party at the end of senior year of college in which I improvised one with an opera scarf and some creative knotting, a formative night.
All the items are clustered together here, because the shop is tiny, though still bigger than the online shop that’s been in operation for a few years that this physical space is an extension of. (Mr. Fox owns Fine and Dandy with Enrique Crame III.)
It’s also a far richer and more fulfilling experience than the virtual store, which does very little to show off the personality of the products. On the site, they look flat. In the store, they look lived-in and essential. Along one wall are racks of bow ties ($45 to $55), scarves, ties and kerchiefs, in overwhelming abundance, florals and stripes and tartans and tweeds. In a glass case at the back of the store is an assortment of tie bars. There’s a box full of cutely balled knit ties ($45). There are crocheted boutonnieres ($9 to $12) in sprightly colors that could trump real live flowers.
What if this were your life? Those people exist, or more specifically, existed. The walls are covered with them: crumbling black-and-white photos of varsity teams and one array with the descriptor Eminent Judges and Lawyers of New York.
Fine and Dandy maintains a blog and a Tumblr full of style inspiration pictures and snapshots of glamorous men. One entry about encouraging men to dress up on Fridays reads: “In our opinion the world is too casual from a style perspective. This is our anti-casual Friday.”
It was Friday when we were there, though we had not received the memo.
Still, we persevered. Ben bought two silk pocket squares — one in four shades of red, the other polka dotted — as gifts, and also a small bound notebook ($6) that looked as if it would singlehandedly turn your chicken scratch into cursive.
I was drawn to a winter tie in white wool with dashed stripes of green, orange, red and lavender ($59), wearable probably once a year, but what a day that would be. I also bought a pair of gray and purple Pantherella socks with a sort of Art Deco post-argyle motif ($29). (Pantherella is one of the few outside brands the store carries.)
THE purchase was rung up on an iPad, via the Square payment system, with an e-mailed receipt. Again with the modernity.
Hopefully the Internet won’t kill Fine and Dandy’s vibe, though. In addition to its retail business, it has experimented with a couple of brand extensions: style consultations are available, and for a while, so was something called Dandy 911, the Kozmo.com of men’s wear, in which you could have your purchase delivered same-day, at least to mid-Manhattan neighborhoods. (The service was suspended as the retail shop was being opened.)
Or maybe the store should accept its fate as a member of the technological future. On one shelf was a gizmo called a tie selector, basically a device that tells you what color shirt and tie to wear with various suits by rotating a wheel behind a cover with cutouts for each item of clothing. With some refining and expansion, it would make a great app.
Fine and Dandy
445 West 49th Street, (212) 247-4847; fineanddandyshop.com.
DENSE FOREST It might be the smallest retail establishment in Manhattan, but its value per square inch is high; items are crammed everywhere, so scan thoroughly and carefully.
BABY STEPS Dandyism is a way of life, for some, but there are options here for amateurs. Buying a great tie or suspenders is like putting flashy rims on a Jetta: a good start.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT Ask questions: the owners are happy to talk about fabric sourcing and hand-rolled silk and more.
Debrett’s is a specialist publisher, founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The name "Debrett's" honours John Debrett. This genealogical guide to the British aristocracy is published today under the name Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage, a book which includes a short history of the family of each titleholder. The editor of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage is Charles Kidd.
How to be a modern gentleman
These days, being a gent involves a lot more than standing up when a lady enters the room.
BY DAVID NICHOLLS | 25 OCTOBER 2010 in The Telegraph
There have been few occasions in my life where I thought to myself, 'Ah, I must consult Debrett's on that matter.' That's because - like a lot of people I suspect - I have a slightly out of date perception of what Debrett's is all about. The publishing house, founded by John Debrett in the 18th century, is best known for its Peerage and Barontage reference books which map out the genealogy of the British aristocracy.
Over the last ten years or so though, it has undergone an unofficial modernisation programme, which has seen its output expand into titles including Manners for Men, Etiquette for Girls and
Find out more about Movember 2010
My favourite is one that I've only just come across, called Guide for the Modern Gentleman. Covering chapters including Gastronomy, At Work, Maintenance and Time Off, it offers authoritative advice on getting every aspect of the modern man's life 'right'. Rather than coming across as dry and prescriptive, it has a marvellously light touch, and comes with regular injections of trivia humour.
In the two days that I've had my copy I've learned 1) that it's okay for a man to own the Anthology album by Diana Ross and the Supremes; 2) how to differentiate a hybrid bike from a touring bike, from a track bike, from a road bike etc; 3) that there is an extant law which states that taxis in the City of London are not allowed to carry rabid dogs or corpses and; 4) the correct way to eat sushi (and not to point with chopsticks). These are all part of what it takes to be a modern gentleman.
Fun stuff aside, the guide also contains a huge amount of truly useful information, which serves as the backbone to this book. A section on suit and shirt details for example, is packed with invaluable advice whether you're buying bespoke or off-the-peg.
Here's an excerpt that details the anatomy of the shirt and what to look for when you're buying one (refer to the gallery above for the accompanying illustration).
THE YOKES: the whole shirt hangs from here. If it doesn't fit, then the shirt won't fit.
ARMHOLES: not so high as to hit the front and the back of the arm.
SLEEVES: these must be long enough to show enough cuff at the end of the suit jacket. They should be tight enough to look good, but loose enough to allow plenty of movement. Wear the jacket you will be wearing with your shirt when you buy.
FRONT: unless you have a large stomach, the front should be close-fitting and flat, as the fullness of a shirt should be contained in the back. A larger waistband may mean more room is required at the front of the shirt.
CUFF: generally, the cuff should end four and half inches from your thumb. Cuff linings can add flair and structure. Double cuffs fit cufflinks and can be altered to accommodate any type of cufflink from square to round, mitred to bar. Bring the cufflink you intend to wear with your shirt when you have it fitted.
TAILS: a shirt should be long enough to ensure that it never pops out of the waistband during the day. Take advice from your tailor on the appropriate length.
COLLAR: collar shape depends on shape of face, shoulder slope, style of jacket and size of tie-knot. A narrow tie will suit a more traditional collar, while anyone who insists on a footballers' tie knots will require a wide, cut-away collar. If the style of tie you wear changes, your tailor can change your shirt's collar to accommodate this. To check whether your collar fits, you should be able to fit three fingers under it at the side of the neck. Always wear a collar stay, too, unless you are wearing a button-down shirt.
POCKETS: pockets spoil the line of a shirt and unless you require them for a specific reason - as somewhere to carry your credit cards or glasses for example - steer clear of them. If you must have pockets, then have one on either side to balance the shirt. It won't look good with a suit but will work more casually.
BACK: shoulder pleats will allow for fullness in the back and permit free movement. For a slim-fit shirt, a centre pleat is required. A baggy shirt won't do your profile any favours.
BUTTONS: four-hole buttons are generally sewn on with a machine and, therefore, lessen the bespoke impact of your shirt. Some tailors will sew three-hole or six-hole buttons- and use brightly coloured thread-to highlight the shirt's bespoke qualities. Buttons can be hidden by a fly-front, if necessary, though the shirt may look oddly bare.
WATCHES: a made-to-measure shirt can be styled to allow for slim, medium-sized and large watches. Wear the watch you intend to wear with your shirt at the fitting.
Guide for the Modern Gentleman (Debrett's, £15)
In support of Movember , the month long initiative that raises money for men's health charities, Debrett's has produced a limited edition Movember version of the the Guide for the Modern Gentleman which will be awarded to participants who raise more than £1000.
From what underwear to choose to how to chat up women: Modern gentlemen's guide to etiquette goes on sale
By JAMES TOZER
UPDATED: 15:51 GMT, 23 September 2008 in The Daily Mail online
Is it still right for a man to open a car door for a woman before getting in himself?
Should men use moisturiser, and is it acceptable to look at social networking sites to check up on a potential date?
These are just some of the vexing – or trivial, depending on your point of view – questions addressed by a book on how to be a ‘modern gentleman’.
Published by etiquette specialists Debrett’s, the aim is to assist today’s man through such minefields as style, manners and office politics.
Its verdicts on the above dilemmas are that it is indeed still considered courteous for a man to open a car door for a woman, that men should not be afraid of skin products, and that there’s nothing wrong with a little internet research before a date.
Debrett’s Guide For The Modern Gentleman covers ground from buying the right type of shoes to basic cookery, and has tips ranging from chat-up lines to how to get an upgrade on a flight.
Billed as ‘a compendium of masculinity’, it also gives bedroom advice from an anonymous ‘Mrs Debrett’, explains how to paint the ultimate bachelor pad and provides a ‘bluffer’s guide’ to the opera.
Editor Jo Bryant said the book was intended as a light-hearted way of updating traditional questions of chivalry and style to the modern world.
‘It’s an ultimate celebration of all things male, ranging from gastronomy and travel to how to bullet-proof your car,’ she added.
The 192-page book advises that instinctive gestures work better than contrived acts of chivalry and instructs men to spend time making sure they look good, with a decent
haircut, smart, ironed clothes and well-polished shoes.
It ranges from how to order a made-to-measure suit to beachwear – here, thongs are only for those ‘style-free and rich enough not to care’.
But, while talk of suitable weekend luggage to squeeze into the boot of a sports car or what to wear on board a yacht suggests that being a gentleman remains a privilege for the well off, Mrs Bryant insisted otherwise.
‘You can make it as expensive or cheap as you like,’ she said.
‘It’s not just about being polite. It’s more about natural finesse and charm.
‘It’s about being the guy people want to be around.’
The »Stein« island in the eastern part of the Wörlitz Gardens with the only artificial volcano in Europe is a particularly spectacular monument within the UNESCO World Heritage that is the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz. After more than twenty years of closure the island was re-opened to the public in September 2005.
This followed years of restoration of this badly damaged structure. Works to secure and reconstruct the building were extremely complex, not least because the objective after years of decay was to reclaim the »Stein« island and preserve it for future generations.
The »Stein« (lit. Stone) was built between 1788 and 1794 for Prince Leopold III. Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau. The island with its grottos and caves, the artificial volcano and the Villa Hamilton gives shape to the memories Prince Franz had from his tour of Italy. He wanted to give the spectator an impression of the Neapolitan topography, of the prevalent vegetation, the shape of a volcano, of an antique theatre and, with the Villa Hamilton, of contemporary Italian architecture.
The Villa Hamilton
The villa was built at the foot of the volcano. It symbolises the friendship between the Prince and the British diplomat, collector of antiquities and geologist Sir William Hamilton and is certainly one of the most delightful neo-classical buildings in Germany. The building with its three early neo-classical rooms is a masterpiece of the architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff. The room with the fireplace (»Kaminzimmer«) – the most richly decorated and indeed most beautiful room in the house – can now also be visited again. Apart from the lavish wall and ceiling decorations, the entire historic interior has been restored; lost objects have been replaced with similar ones. Visitors can now experience gouaches by Charles-Louis Clérisseau, alabaster and fluorite vases as well as bas-reliefs by Josiah Wedgwood in their original context. Two of the rooms are still awaiting their restoration.
The re-opening of the »Stein« concluded main parts of the work on the building, above all those to secure it structurally. To experience the island in its entirety, it is necessary to press ahead with work to restore the exceptional interiors. The coming years will see the restoration of the Temple of the Day, the Temple of the Night, the Roman Baths, the sculptural decoration, the Green Cabinet and the Middle Room of the Villa Hamilton as well as the completion of works on the outside areas.
The re-opening was celebrated with a festive programme that was put together in cooperation with the Anhaltisches Theater in Dessau and the Hotel »Zum Stein« in Wörlitz. Even Sir William Hamilton himself together with Emma Lady Hamilton – played by members of the Trinity College of Music London - have made their way to Wörlitz to join the festivities. Right on time, the volcano – having been dormant for the best part of 200 years – marked the occasion with a series of eruptions. Thousands of visitors witnessed the fascinating event on four evenings. A magnificent spectacle of »nature«…
November 15, 2012–February 18, 2013
Restless in Style and Subject
‘George Bellows,’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
By ROBERTA SMITH
Published: November 15, 2012 in The New York Times
Just after the American painter George Bellows died of a ruptured appendix at the age of 42, in 1925, the writer Sherwood Anderson offered a poignant assessment. Anderson wrote that Bellows’s last paintings “keep telling you things. They are telling you that Mr. George Bellows died too young. They are telling you that he was after something, that he was always after it.”
Whatever Bellows was after, he pursued it restlessly, not just in his final canvases but through most of his busy and multifaceted, if truncated, career, and only rarely did he catch up with it. This is the ultimate message of “George Bellows,” an unnecessarily disappointing retrospective that has come to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the National Gallery in Washington. Organized by Charles Brock, an associate curator there, it contains some 70 oils and 30 works on paper. Still, there is a good chance you will emerge from it starving for truly alive art. I sure did.
At least as seen at the Met, Bellows was constantly changing his subject matter and adjusting his often buttery handling of paint, but too many of the canvases fall short of being convincing. His best efforts here are limited mostly to the early years of the 20th century, when, in a burst of promise shortly after arriving in New York, Bellows made paintings of street urchins, boxers, construction sites and urban riverscapes that are found in the exhibition’s first four galleries. Too many works in the remaining six are stilted period pieces.
The Bellows conjured in the Met show comes across as a talented and ambitious yet complacent artist, earnest and hard-working but often remote, an artist who frequently failed to work from that crucial point where criticality and desperation forge ambition and skill into something indelibly personal and expandable. He once said, “A work of art can be any imaginable thing, and this is the beginning of modern painting.” And yet his own art rarely questions the accepted conventions of his time.
But whether this exhibition does Bellows’s achievement justice is a good question, and easier to answer than usual: the catalogue raisonné of Bellows’s paintings is available online. (It was assembled by Glenn C. Peck, who contributes an essay to the catalog.)
Perusing the nearly 700 paintings reproduced on the site reveals that the show ignores all but four of the hundreds of increasingly visionary plein air oil panels of rocky coasts, landscapes and ramshackle farms that Bellows painted from 1911 on, first in Maine and then in Woodstock, N.Y. (A wall text in the final gallery dismissively refers to the small Woodstock landscapes as “bucolic,” an underestimation.) There are also numerous larger works that might have improved the show, among them the National Academy Museum’s great Maine canvas, “Three Rollers” (1911).
Bellows may have enjoyed more success than was good for him. Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1882, he was the only child of a comfortably well-off builder; he grew up excelling at sports and art and wanted to be an illustrator. He played baseball and basketball at Ohio State University and was encouraged to pursue art. By 1904 he was in New York, where he played semipro baseball during his first two summers and studied with the charismatic artist Robert Henri, who diverted him from illustration toward painting.
Henri exhorted his students to paint urban life at its grittiest — which would later lead them to be known as the Ashcan School — and to study Manet, Daumier, Velázquez and Goya and other European masters of suggestive darkness. “On the East Side,” a deeply shadowed early drawing that Bellows made around 1906, evinces a touching reverence for Rembrandt, though he would also look to Renoir, Degas and Whistler.
Bellows was exhibiting his work by 1907, receiving prizes and positive reviews. It didn’t hurt that as a former athlete and eventual family man who liked to paint his wife and daughters, he projected a virile persona, nonneurotic and nonbohemian. By 1911 he was represented in the Met’s collection; by 1913 he was a full member of the National Academy of Design, the youngest ever admitted. In the thick of New York’s progressive art circles, he helped install Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” in the Armory Show — in which he was also represented — but he disdained the exhibition’s most radical import, Cubism.
Bellows’s gifts for illustration and handling paint enabled him to follow Henri’s advice with rare verve, as evidenced by paintings like the 1906 “Kids,” whose lush surface and precarious composition captures the incipient chaos of children’s sidewalk games with an immediacy that presages the photographs of Helen Levitt.
In the 1907 “42 Kids,” with its swarm of boys skinny-dipping in the East River, his painterly and caricatural ease collude so effectively that the figures read as cartoons. This hints at a problem that runs throughout his work: his figures often feel more like glosses, types or character actors playing parts than like real people. Exceptions can be found in early portraits like “Paddy Flannigan” (1908), where a cross-eyed, bucktoothed newsboy strikes a defiant, bare-chested pose, fully present.
At times Bellows seemed to think that modernity was achieved by scaling up the oil study until the physicality of paint becomes an especially active part of the story. In his best-known painting, the 1909 “Stag at Sharkey’s,” the colliding bodies of the two fighters are defined by sinuous strokes of paint that make their flesh seem almost to meld at impact. It looks back to the French and Spanish masters, while pointing in its raw violence toward Futurism and even Action Painting. The work personifies an artist who, as Carol Troyen, curator emerita of American paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, writes in the catalog, shrewdly walked the line between tradition and innovation and was seen in his time as an unlikely combination of academician and independent.
More genuinely forward-looking are three dark, enigmatic paintings of the excavation for Penn Station from 1907-9 that, as Ms. Troyen suggests, show modern progress as a violation of nature, a giant void in the earth, and give this “wound” a reality and lasting power that no photograph could match. In these works paint is laid on in broad, rough slabs, becoming earth and also incipient abstraction. Loosely descriptive details intimate machines, bonfires, workers and surrounding buildings, all but dwarfed by the primordial setting. Across the way, “Rain on the River” of 1908, a sweeping view of Riverside Park, busy railroad tracks and the Hudson rendered in misty, Whistlerian grays, has an effortless ease.
In the fourth gallery Bellows’s painting starts to stall. He mustered a few more strong depictions of city life, countering the void of the excavation paintings with the 1911 “New York,” an allover cacophony of people, vehicles and buildings on Madison Square in Manhattan at rush hour, and coming to terms with Impressionism in paintings of the snow-banked Hudson in winter.
But his tactile surfaces and compositions start to feel regimented and sometimes overly full. Summery images of white-clad figures at leisure in Central Park or watching a polo match resemble illustrations for Vanity Fair, as do later paintings of tennis matches at Newport, R.I., to which he adds glowing, El Greco skies. His images of New York dockworkers and later Maine shipbuilders start to be more ennobling and hollow than gritty.
Hereafter the show feels rushed, superficial and slightly disorganized. It pauses briefly for the Maine landscapes, most notably “Shore House” and “An Island in the Sea”; scatters Bellows’s lithographs about incoherently; and gives too much space to a group of histrionic, propagandistic paintings of atrocities that, it was later revealed, the Germans mostly did not commit during World War I.
A final gallery (where Anderson’s quotation appears on the wall) includes four large stiff group portraits, where one — the deeply strange portrait of “Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase” — would have sufficed. Depicting a farm couple from Woodstock, where Bellows summered during the last several years of his life, the Wase portrait’s dry, honest realism is justifiably seen as a precursor to American scene painting. On the opposite wall hang three smaller, more freely worked paintings dominated by fantastical landscapes, the most intriguing of which is “The White Horse,” where the El Greco sky seems quite at home among a panoply of feathery plants and trees.
This exhibition, which has been overseen at the Met by H. Barbara Weinberg, curator of American paintings, and Lisa M. Messinger, associate curator of Modern and contemporary art, conveys the complexity of Bellows’s work without sorting its strengths and weaknesses or examining the importance of his landscape paintings — whose bright colors can still be off-putting — during his final decade.
The preface to the catalog states that the show “highlights the ends more than the means of Bellows’s art — its subjects and meanings more than its methods and techniques.” This is an unfortunate approach to take with an artist like Bellows, whose passion for paint was so overt. In his final years it may have brought him closer than anyone yet realizes to the something he was always after.
“George Bellows” continues through Feb. 18 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum .org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 17, 2012
An art review on Friday about an exhibition of the work of George Bellows, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, referred imprecisely to the writer Sherwood Anderson, whose assessment of Bellows’s last paintings was quoted in the review. While he did write plays, he was primarily an author of novels and short stories, not a playwright.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 22, 2012
An art review on Friday about an exhibition of the work of George Bellows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art misidentified the museum that owns Bellows’s painting “Three Rollers,” which was cited as a work that might have improved the exhibition. It is the National Academy Museum, not the National Design Museum.
George Wesley Bellows (August 12 or August 19,1882 – January 8, 1925) was an American realist painter, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City, becoming, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation"
Bellows first achieved notice in 1908, when he and other pupils of Henri organized an exhibition of mostly urban studies. While many critics considered these to be crudely painted, others found them welcomely audacious and a step beyond the work of his teacher. Bellows taught at the Art Students League of New York in 1909, although he was more interested in pursuing a career as a painter. His fame grew as he contributed to other nationally recognized juried shows.
Bellows' urban New York scenes depicted the crudity and chaos of working-class people and neighborhoods, and also satirized the upper classes. From 1907 through 1915, he executed a series of paintings depicting New York City under snowfall. These paintings were the main testing ground in which Bellows developed his strong sense of light and visual texture. These exhibited a stark contrast between the blue and white expanses of snow and the rough and grimy surfaces of city structures, and created an aesthetically ironic image of the equally rough and grimy men struggling to clear away the nuisance of the pure snow.
However, Bellows' series of paintings portraying amateur boxing matches were arguably his signature contribution to art history.These paintings are characterized by dark atmospheres, through which the bright, roughly lain brushstrokes of the human figures vividly strike with a strong sense of motion and direction.
By C. B Collins Jr.
This book was written and published in collaboration with an exhibition of Goerge Bellow's work in a mueum exhibition. It is beautifully presented with many of Bellow's paintings reproduced in color along with many of his drawings and lithographic prints.
There were numerous strategically placed quotations from Bellows that were insightful and resonated with the various sections into which the book was divided. The introduction begins with "I am always amused with people who talke about lack of subjects for painting. The great difficulty is that you can ot stop to sort them out enough. Wherever you go, they are waiting for you...It seems to me that an artist must be a spectator of life; a reverential, enthusiastic, emotional spectator; and then the great dramas of human nature will surge through his mind."
Mary Sayre Haverstock, the author, covers Bellows from his youth as a second child to elderly parents, his elder sister a grown woman when he is born, to his school days as an athlete who was accomplished in baseball and basketball. Bellows goes to New York City after completion of college in Ohio, and begins study under Robert Henri. Here, he and others form the Ashcan School of NYC painters. He becomes friends and assocaites with artists now recognized for their tremendous contribution to American art, such as Sloan, Marsh, Luks, Henri, as well as writer Eugene O'Neill. Robert Henri would appear to be the strongest influence on the work of Bellows, in his classroom instruction and in his personal relationship with Bellows. His confidence, personal philosophy, artistic philosophy, and technique grows in NYC as reflected in this quote: "My advice is to paint just as you have the confidence to, and keep your ideals aloof to criticize your painting with. Watch all good art, and accept none as standard for yourself. Think with all the world, and work alone."
Bellow's early works in New York City are astounding and lead to the great paintings of boxers and World War 1 atrocities. As you look at his work, Bellow's ability to concedntrate the eye of the viewer into specific focal points through high contrast of dark and light as well as unexpected and sometimes off setting composition is remarkable. 'River rats' from 1906 is an outstanding early work demonstrating incredible dexterity, mastery of the use of darks and lights (lessons from the works of Hals, Rembrandt, Goya, Valesquez), and energetic layers of brushstrokes. 'Club Night', a scene of ugly pug faced boxers emerging from darkness, reminds me of the powerful anti-war works of the later Goya. In fact, the influence of Goya is evident in Bellow's style of composition and even in his subject matter. His refined portraits are serene and beautiful and classy yet his scenes of the brutalitya and force of a man to man struggle are full of dark energy and drama. Compare the faces in 'Club Night' to the dark final paintings of Goya. The great drawing, 'Tin Can Battle, San Juan HIll, New York' shows his superb ability to capture the male body in motion, but more than just the motion of strolling, it is rather the motion of extreme physical effort. Look at the wide stances taken by the Black youths throwing tin cans, almost beyond belief how the male figure is stretched to such extremes in athletic and combative struggles. Bellows won an early award for 'Forty-Two Kids' which is a theme he returns to later with more complex compositions, such as 'Riverfront No. 1'. However, here he shows early his sympthay for the urban poor, the unemployed male masses, the resiliency of youth even in a world of deterministic class structures.
Bellow's scenes of nature are raw, powerful, beautiful but not romantic. 'North Rive', and 'Floating Ice' are examples of this power. Bellows did not romanticize snow. In fact his figures struggle in deep and slushy snow in many of his works, such as 'Easter Snow'. However, like black, white has the ability to focus the eye of the viewer which Bellows seems to see as the goal.
George Bellow's city scenes are favorites of mine.His ability to define essential form and shape with high contrasted blacks and lights is masterful. In harsh light, shadow becomes even darker when the pupil contracts. Bellows captures this, allows it to become the central armature of the paining. In 'Noon' the subway tracks frame the distance looking down a long street, awash with smoke and hard white sunlight.
'Stag at Sharkey's' is one of the greatest American paintings and is reproduced here on the cover in detail and inside in full reproduction of the complete work. The lengthening of the male form in action will always be seen as Bellow's triumpant observation of human movement. Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya and others never pushed the male figure to the anatomical and athletic extremes of Bellows.
The book covers the many exhibitions in which Bellows participated, organized, and hung. His awards were numerous even though his work was not without controversy. He loved the public and yet would state 'There is a strange disease in people's minds which makes them imagine tehmselves as arbiters of beauty,and creates a constant and foolish demand that pictures be all 'pretty'. As if Shakespeare had alsways gone around writing love sonnets.' Bellows was familiar with the works of Riis that depicted the urban poor in NYC. He was a supporter of socialist thought and such persons as Emma Goldman. He painted the evangelist Billy Sunday to expose the travesty of these dramatic emotional revivals. Bellows says "Ilike to paint Billy Sunday, not becuase I like him, but because I want to show the world what I do think of him...He is death to the imagination, to spiritualiyt, to art...His whole purpsoe is to force authority against beauty. He is against freedom, he wants a religious autocracy, he is such a reactionary that he makes me an anarchist."
Whether the scene is the urban poor or urban rich or a fist fight or a circus act, Bellows used light and dark as a central organizing factor in his work to superb effects.
Bellows contributed to the World War I efforts with drawnings and prints of atrocities. He becomes more philosophical as he ages and gains experience. He says 'Time is needed to estimate any work of art.' His last paintings are superb, with 'Dempsey and Firpo' a paragon of the the male to male struggle. It is so sad that we lost Bellows at age forty-two to appendicitis complications.