Sunday, November 29

George Bellows, "Cliff Dwellers," 1913

Cliff Dwellers, 1913.
"... The term 'cliff dwellers' refers to the Native Americans of the Southwest who lived in stratified cave dwellings cut into the sides of steep cliffs. Here, multistory tenement buildings on the Lower East Side are overcrowded to the point of bursting. Residents spill onto the streets and hang out of windows to get some relief from the summer heat. Penned in by walls of brick, they seem unable to escape their circumstances. As one New York City official lamented, 'It is simply impossible to pack human beings into these hives . . . and not have them suffer in health and morals.' While the picture appears to have a political agenda, [George] Bellows professed his commitment only to personal and artistic freedom. These drawings for Bellows's oil painting Cliff Dwellers illustrate how the artist spent a fair amount of time thinking about the narrative details and compositional arrangements of his large oil paintings. ..."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art"
A Working-Class Painter