George Bellows Center opening at Columbus Museum of Art

This fall the Columbus Museum of Art will officially unveil the new George Bellows Center, a hub dedicated to fostering and incubating exhibitions, publications and scholarly research and presenting public programs related to the legendary American artist and his contemporaries. A leading modern and realist artist, George Bellows (1882-1925) was born and educated in Columbus, Ohio, before leaving for New York City to study art.

Housed within the Columbus Museum of Art, the George Bellows Center will include a gallery and study space for visiting scholars and students and will convene public events throughout the year. The new center was made possible with leadership support from the Teckie and Don Shackelford family. The Shackelford family also endowed CMA’s curator of American art, who will serve as the director of the Bellows Center.

The November 4, 2021, opening weekend event will be headlined by noted Bellows scholar Mark Cole, William P. and Amanda C. Madar curator of American painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cole will present on Bellows’ life both as a gifted athlete and astute observer, chronicler and interpreter of the world around him, including sporting subjects as a microcosm of society. For Bellows, sports were metaphors for life itself, and his images of skill and rivalry stand as potent symbols for the brash competitive spirit of early modern America.

Throughout the opening weekend, visitors will be invited to stop by the Center for a rare look at Bellows’ arts record book, as well as Bellows prints, lithographs and paintings. 

The inaugural year of programming for the George Bellows Center continues in Spring 2022 when CMA welcomes Charles Brock, associate curator of American and British paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and lead scholar and curator of the National Gallery’s 2012 retrospective on the artist, who also will present a lecture on the artist.

CMA has the single most important collection of Bellows’ work in the United States. The museum continues to add to its Bellows holdings and is compiling one of the most significant collections of the artist’s lithographs in a public institution, as well as growing and caring for Columbus’ collection of Bellows paintings and lithograph drawings.

Among Bellows’ first noted commissions were portraits of prominent Columbus citizens. He maintained close ties to Columbus throughout his life and organized the first major exhibition of the Ashcan School artists outside of New York in Columbus.

Equally acclaimed as a painter and printmaker, Bellows embraced a wide range of subjects –  from portraits of family to bold depictions of urban streetscapes in New York, to indelible landscapes. Affiliated with the Ashcan School, a group of New York artists interested in capturing everyday American life, Bellows was part of a groundbreaking group that changed the trajectory and status of American art. Many of Bellows’ images, particularly his lithographs, reflect his social justice concerns: immigration, the horrors of WWI and capital punishment.

George Bellows, A Stag at Sharkey's Lithograph, 1917 Museum Purchase with funds provided by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Jones, by exchange
George Bellows, A Stag at Sharkey’s Lithograph, 1917 Museum Purchase with funds provided by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Jones, by exchange

In 2025 CMA’s George Bellows Center plans to mark the centennial of the artist’s death with a special exhibition, publication and range of public programs. CMA is currently working to publish the Bellows record book, which is jointly owned by the museum and The Ohio State University, and to make it accessible online.

About Columbus Museum of Art

CMA is where creativity and the daily life of our community intersect and thrive, as we champion new and different ways of thinking and doing. We celebrate the creative process and provide opportunities for people to cultivate and discover the value of creativity in their own lives.

CMA’s collection includes outstanding late 19th- and early 20th-century American and European modern works of art. We house the world’s largest collections of works by beloved local artists Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce and George Bellows; and acclaimed collections such as The Photo League and the Philip and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art. A commitment to contemporary art, folk art, glass and photography continues the Museum’s dedication to showcasing art of our time.

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