Charles Demuth (American, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1883–1935 Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

Gouache and graphite on paperboard (Beaver Board)
24 x 19 7/8 in. (61 x 50.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This painting was first shown in an exhibition of Demuth's works titled Arrangements of the American Landscape Forms, held at the Daniel Gallery in New York in 1920. Rather than a traditional landscape scene, it depicts industrial architecture in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Despite some abstract use of force lines and fragmented planes, the subject remains identifiable. It is a scene of rooftop machinery set against a background of windows belonging to an adjacent factory building; the central structure is a cyclone separator, a centrifuge-like apparatus often used in industrial settings, consisting of a tank, a funnel, and two armlike duct pipes. Like Demuth's painting The Figure 5 in Gold (49.59.1), this work was dedicated to his close friend, the poet William Carlos Williams. Williams himself contemplated the analogy between the arts and technology. In 1944, he wrote, "To make two bald statements: There's nothing sentimental about a machine, and: A poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words" (introduction to The Wedge, 1944).

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Demuth, 1920 - Lancaster Pa., for W. Carlos W.

  • Exhibition History

    "The Alfred Stieglitz Exhibition: His Photographs and Collection", The Museum of Modern Art, NY, June 11 - Aug. 31, 1947 (exhibition loan number 47.177)
    "The Stieglitz Collection", Art Institute of Chicago, 1948

    New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ¦Drawings from the Alfred Stieglitz Collection¦, September 9-November 12, 1967 (no catalogue, typed checklist only)

    "Charles Demuth," The Metropolitan Museum of Art (LAW, North Mezzanine), May 9 - August 31, 2003

    "American Drawings 1900-1950, Selection from the Permanent Collection," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 24, 2005 - April 24, 2006

  • References

    Dennis, James M. Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, mentioned in text p. 203; illustrated (b&w) fig. 121 p. 206

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History