Like many European and American artists before him, George Bellows translated some of his most successful compositions into prints. Stag at Sharkey’s is based on an oil painting from 1909 that features an illegal boxing match at an entertainment venue in the artist’s neighborhood. (Bellows had since moved to a different part of town.) The lithograph retains the intense physicality of the composition in oil, but the boxers’ bodies appear more volumetric in the print than in the painting. And in both media, Bellows depicted the scene with strong contrast, throwing the clandestine crowd into deep shadow, against which the boxers seem to glow like Greek sculptures in a museum display. Returning to this subject in 1917, Bellows would have likely understood this image of brutal combat anew as a metaphor for World War I, which had been raging in Europe since 1914.
fighting; male; darkrooms; sports; figures; movement
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