George Bellows, Cliff Dwellers, 1913, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Fund

From the Collection: Cliff Dwellers

January 20, 2015
Linda Theung, Editor

This year LACMA is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Indeed, in 1965, the museum welcomed the public through its doors for the first time, with a poster designed by Alexander Calder that marked the specific day of the opening: April 1, 1965. Born from what was then the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, which was initially established in 1910, LACMA is now one of the largest museums in the country, boasting a collection of over 120,000 objects that span all time and cultures.

As part of our 50th anniversary year, we're putting together a series here on Unframed to celebrate the richness, breadth, and depth of LACMA's collection. And what better way to launch this series than to highlight George Bellows's Cliff Dwellers, the first artwork to enter the museum?

Acquired before LACMA was LACMA (in 1916), Cliff Dwellers was featured in the Armory show in 1913. Painted early in his career—he was in his early 30s at the time—Cliff Dwellers eventually became one of the most celebrated American paintings. Depicting the poorly kept tenements and their residents of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this painting is the consummate example of the Ashcan School. The movement was promoted by the painter Robert Henri, among others, who was Bellows's teacher at the New York School of Art.

Cliff Dwellers is currently on view on the third floor of the Art of the Americas Building. Learn more while in the gallery using LACMA's multimedia tour, or read more about this work and download a free high-resolution image.

This year marks LACMA's 50th anniversary. We're celebrating all that we've done while looking forward to what's in store for us in the next 50. Check back every week on Unframed to find a highlight of an artwork from LACMA's collection, which features over 120,000 objects that span time, the globe, and all cultures. This is 1/50 of the series.

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