Friday, September 4

George Bellows, "Pennsylvania Station Excavation," 1907-1909


Pennsylvania Station Excavation, 1907
"I wanted to make sure to see the George Bellows exhibition at the Metropolitan before it closes February 18, in order to see a few paintings that had been recommended to me by Susan Bee, in particular three paintings done between 1907 and 1909 of the excavation of the site for Pennsylvania Station. The paintings are easel sized and painted in a loose expressionistic style that is a eerie and awkward combination of Goya, Velasquez, Courbet, with a Brueghel quote in the bottom right corner of a dark worker against a snow white background but, despite these historical allusions, they are  imbued with a regionalist, Americanist feel. And yet, as one viewer I overheard say, these paintings are ferocious. In the first, Pennsylvania Excavation, the organized city is a far off dream against the blackened rock, earth, and gravel pit covered by snow and white mist from the steam engine of a work train dwarfed by the scale of site. ..."
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