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Charles Sheeler [1883 – 1965] PowerPoint Presentation
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Charles Sheeler [1883 – 1965]

Charles Sheeler [1883 – 1965]

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Charles Sheeler [1883 – 1965]

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  1. Charles Sheeler[1883 – 1965] American Landscape c. 1930

  2. "Works of art are more than mere ornaments for the elite, They are primary documents of a civilization. • A written record or a textbook tells you one thing; but art reveals something else. • Our students and citizens deserve to see American art that shows us where we have come from, what we have endured, and where we are headed."

  3. The Precisionist View • In between the two World Wars two American artists (Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler) began a new style loosely connected to Art Deco. • Where Art Deco was more about high society, wealth and living the high life, • Precisionism was more like the 19th century Realist art. Precisionism showed real people in real situations, real objects and architecture.

  4. However the Precisionists didn't associate themselves with other realism artists in the United States (such as American Scene, the Regionalists painters such as Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood and John Stewart Curry).

  5. Precisionists have been classified as a group of artist who began to depict the use of machinery using styles and techniques of the previous movements before them such as abstraction, cubism and Abstract Expressionism.

  6. This movement came around shortly after World War 1, when the use of machines began to boom within the United States.

  7. 1915 • The precisionist movement was originally started in nineteen hundred and fifteen when a group of artists got together and decided to look forward to the art of the future.

  8. The movement was built around the idea of artists using the precision of their instruments to display these ideas of machinery throughout America.

  9. Construction and machinery were the two main influences of the precisionism movement which became big in the nineteen twenties around the time World War one was ending. • With streamlining though mechanization was becoming an ideal everyday thing for Americans. • Skylines going up in New York,( fifty to seventy story buildings) • Cities such as Cleveland, Memphis and Syracuse were beginning to install twenty story buildings.

  10. Precisionism became an art movement more as a response to society and the production of new products like motion picture films, antifreeze and cigarette lighters.

  11. The term Precisionism itself was first coined in the early 1920s. • Influenced strongly by Cubism, Futurism and Abstract Expressionism. • Its main themes included industrialization and the modernization of the American landscape, which were depicted in precise, sharply defined, geometrical forms.

  12. These movements all led up to and strongly influenced the movement of the precisionist artists. • Precisionism is roughly a combination of these three movements together, using geometrical shapes and using them in abstract forms.

  13. Artworks in the 1920s tended to show the rapidly growing nation along with its expansion of technology and industry. • As a typical artist strongly influenced by big changes of the new age, Charles Sheeler revealed a love for contemporary urban life and the beauty of the machine through many of his photographs and paintings.

  14. Charles Rettew Sheeler, Jr. (July 16, 1883 – May 7, 1965) was an American artist. • He is recognized as one of the founders of American modernism and one of the master photographers of the 20th century.

  15. Born in Philadelphia, he attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), from 1900 to 1903, and • The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under William Merritt Chase.

  16. He found early success as a painter and exhibited at the Macbeth Gallery in 1908. • In 1909, he went to Paris, just when the popularity of Cubism was skyrocketing.

  17. Returning to the United States, he realized that he would not be able to make a living with Modernist painting. • Instead, he took up commercial photography, focusing particularly on architectural subjects. • He was a self-taught photographer, learning his trade on a five dollar Brownie.

  18. Brownie Camera

  19. Charles Sheeler standing next to a window. c. 1910

  20. Charles Sheeler • Began his career as a commercial photographer specializing in architecture and would later add painting to his repertoire. • He pioneered sharp focus effects and even collaborated on the film "Manhatta" (named after Walt Whitman's poem Mannahatta) in which the city was viewed from above (a revolutionary idea at the time). • He used the same viewpoint in "Church Street E1" in 1920.

  21. Church Street E1c. 1920

  22. It was Sheeler who inaugurated the new style (soon to be called Precisionism) in which strict geometry and a love of technology were combined to mirror urban and city life.

  23. "The ungainly name "Precisionism" was coined by the painter-photographer Charles Sheeler, mainly to denote what he himself did. • It indicated both style and subject. • In fact, the subject was the style: exact, hard, flat, big, industrial, and full of exchanges with photography. • Photography fed into painting and vice versa. • No expressive strokes of paint.

  24. Anything live or organic, like trees or people, was kept out. • There was no such thing as a Precisionist pussycat.

  25. 1927 - 1928 • In 1927-28 Sheeler was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company to document the Red River Plant in Michigan, a work that marked him as an admirer of machinery and industrial landscapes.

  26. Sheeler's work however were strangely devoid of people. • Although the machines and buildings were all man-made there were rarely people in his work.

  27. He glorified the machine and the architecture, giving his urban landscapes a feeling of being almost robotic.

  28. Sheeler's work records the displacement of the Natural Sublime by the Industrial Sublime, but his real subject was the Managerial Sublime, a thoroughly American notion. • And though Precisionism broadened into an American movement in the late twenties and early thirties, Sheeler's work defined its essential scope and meaning.

  29. Criss-Crossed Conveyers at the Ford Plant c. 1927

  30. Upper Deck c. 1929

  31. Rolling Power

  32. The only trace of humanity in Charles Sheeler’s austere American Landscape is a tiny figure scurrying across the railroad tracks.

  33. With one arm outstretched, he appears frozen in action, as if in a snapshot, precisely halfway between two uncoupled freight cars. • The calculated placement of this anonymous person suggests that he was included in the composition only to lend scale to the enormous factories, which dwarf even the train and displace every other living thing.

  34. Take a Closer Look…. • Locate the tiny figure. • Where is the ladder? • Locate the Silos.

  35. Sheeler coined the term “Precisionism” to describe this emotionally detached approach to the modern world. • Influenced by the mechanisms of modern technology, Precisionist art employs sharply defined, largely geometric forms, and often gauges the landscape’s transformation in the wake of industrial progress.

  36. Perspective • How does Sheeler indicate distance in this painting?

  37. The parallel horizontal lines are converging, coming closer together, to the left of the painting. • Objects overlap and distant structures are smaller, with fewer details.

  38. American Landscape toys with our expectations. • In a painting of that title, we hope to find a peaceful view of mountains and trees, or perhaps cottages and crops, in the manner of Thomas Cole or Albert Bierstadt

  39. Instead, Sheeler gives us factories, silos, and smokestacks.

  40. What lines look as if they were drawn with a ruler?

  41. The lines on the edge of the canal, • The train and tracks, and • The buildings look as if they were composed with a straight edge.

  42. Much of this painting is geometric. • What parts are not?

  43. The water and the reflections in the water, the sky and smoke, and the pile of ore are irregular in shape.

  44. Compare the Buildings with the Man

  45. This plant mass-produced automobiles. Raw materials and ores were transformed into cars. Long conveyor belts moved materials within the factory. • What structures in this view possibly house conveyor belts?

  46. The long, thin white structure in front of the silos and other large buildings are possible sheds.

  47. What does this painting say about the scale of American industry in 1930?

  48. Sheeler was impressed with the massive scale of American industry and this plant.