Cliff Dwellers is an oil on canvas painting by George Bellows that was exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show. The painting depicts a vibrant crowd on a hot summer day in New York City’s Lower East Side, highlighting the explosive population growth of the city over the previous forty years. Bellows’s excellent control of color and perspective masterfully captures the bustling scene of tenements on the Lower East Side.
The painting is a part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collection since its acquisition in 1916. In addition to the painting, Bellows created two transfer drawings and one smaller watercolor of this city scene. He originally titled the painting as Cliff Dwellers, but later crossed out the definite article.
Overall, the painting showcases Bellows’s exceptional artistic ability to depict the fast-paced, colorful cityscapes of New York. The viewer can easily sense the heat of the day, the chaos of the crowd, and the stark contrast between the tenement buildings’ drabness and the colorful clothing of the figures depicted. Cliff Dwellers is a prime example of the artist’s mastery of the genre and a must-see painting for art enthusiasts looking to learn more about early 20th century American art.