Excavation at Night (1908) by George Bellows

Excavation at Night - George Bellows - 1908

Artwork Information

TitleExcavation at Night
ArtistGeorge Bellows
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions86.4 x 111.8 cm (34 x 44 in.)
Art MovementAmerican Realism
Current LocationPrivate collection

About Excavation at Night

The artwork titled “Excavation at Night” was crafted by the artist George Bellows in the year 1908. This oil on canvas painting is connected to the American Realism art movement and can be classified within the genre of cityscape. The dimensions of this work are 86.4 by 111.8 centimeters, or approximately 34 by 44 inches. While the current location of this artwork is within a private collection, it captures a moment of urban transformation and nocturnal labor from the early 20th century.

“Excavation at Night” portrays a dramatic scene set against the darkness of night. The artwork depicts an urban excavation site, likely for a building foundation or a similar construction project. Bellows’ use of sharp contrasts between light and dark emphasize the depth and the shadows within the scene, creating a palpable tension between the man-made environment and the void of the excavation. Hints of artificial light punctuate the scene, highlighting the rough textures of the exposed earth and cast reflections upon the surrounding surfaces. The surrounding architecture is rendered with a gritty realism, with windows glowing in the night and the faint outlines of buildings providing context for the scale of the construction site. The human figures in the scene, though small and sparsely detailed, convey a sense of labor and the presence of life amidst the stark industrial setting. This powerful nocturnal landscape offers a window into the urban experience and the transformative processes that shape our cities.

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