American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe

George Bellows (American, 1882–1925)
Dempsey and Firpo
composition: 18 1/8 x 22 3/8" (46 x 56.9 cm); sheet: 22 3/4 x 26" (57.8
x 66 cm)
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund

George Bellows. Dempsey and Firpo. 1923-24

Lithograph, composition: 18 1/8 x 22 3/8" (46 x 56.9 cm); sheet: 22 3/4 x 26" (57.8 x 66 cm). Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund

Assistant Curator, Kathy Curry: In 1923, George Bellows was invited by the New York Evening Journal to record a fight between Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo, an Argentine opponent, at the Polo Grounds. This is the surprising moment when Jack Dempsey was actually knocked out of the ring.

[Sound effects of a boxing match with crowd and bell]

Director, Glenn Lowry: Bellows portrays this dramatic moment with Firpo standing tall and triumphant over Dempsey, who was the reigning heavyweight champion at the time.

Kathy Curry: With this lithograph he’s able to really pull out the darks and lights, the spotlights above and the darkness of the crowds. You don’t see the faces; you can really pull out the brutality of the moment in the black and white.

Glenn Lowry: Bellows included himself here—he’s the bald-headed figure at the far left. He wrote to a friend:

George Bellows (read by actor): When Dempsey was knocked through the ropes he fell in my lap. I cursed him a bit and placed him carefully back in the ring with instructions to be of good cheer.

Glenn Lowry: Dempsey went on to win the match and keep his title.

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