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George Bellows

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20120816-164706-pic-45963865.jpg

20120816-164706-pic-45963865.jpg

Exhibit: George Bellows at the National Gallery of Art The best photos of Muhammad Ali, snapped largely by Neil Leifer of Sports Illustrated, capture the boxer's ferocity (as when he's yelling into the face of a downed Sonny Liston in 1965) and intensity (another Liston moment, this one from 1964). Even more than film or prose, still photographs captures the most important moments in a fight. But there are things that even the best boxing photography cannot deliver. The specificity of a photographed moment alienates as from what happened in the seconds before and after, and from the flow of the fight. Though he died in 1925, long before boxing became the sport it is today, painter George Bellows knew how to capture the flow of a fight. 1909's "Both Members of This Club" shows two boxers heaving against each other; their ribs and necks pink and pulpy from not just punches, but the strain of staying in the fight. "Stag at Sharkey's," from the same year, is epitome of hand-to-hand combat. Both paintings are what modern boxing photography aspires to be. To Oct. 8 at the National Gallery of Art, between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. Phone: (202) 737-4215. Web: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/bellowsinfo.shtm