Charles Sheeler: Modernism, Precisionism and the Borders of by Mark Rawlinson

By Mark Rawlinson

Charles Sheeler was once the stark poet of the desktop age. Photographer of the Ford Motor corporation and founding father of the portray circulation Precisionism, he's remembered as a promoter of - and apologist for - the industrialised capitalist ethic. This significant new reconsider of 1 of the most important figures of yankee modernism argues that Sheeler's precise dating to growth was once in reality hugely detrimental, his 'precisionism' either skewed and obscure. overlaying the full oeuvre from images to portray and drawing cognizance to the inconsistencies, curiosities and 'puzzles' embedded in Sheeler's paintings, Rawlinson finds a profound critique of the techniques of rationalisation and the stipulations of modernity. The publication argues ultimately for a second look of Sheeler's usually brushed off past due paintings which, it indicates, may possibly in simple terms be understood via an intensive shift in our knowing of the paintings of this admired determine.

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Extra info for Charles Sheeler: Modernism, Precisionism and the Borders of Abstraction

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Taken from Leibniz, the notion of the monad recurs in the work of both Benjamin and Adorno. 105 These images of restrained access, of barred thresholds, are themselves thresholds that allow access to the world in miniature. Between 1910 and 1926 Charles Sheeler rented the Doylestown House, a colonial cottage in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, built by Jonathan Worthington in 1768. The house, shared with fellow artist, Morton Schamberg until his death during the influenza epidemic in 1917, was a place to escape to, a retreat where both men could produce art.

Granted, the light in the stove is a lamp and not a fire, but Sheeler’s imagery seeks to make the analogy. indd 39 31/10/2007 14:14:05 5.  . 111 I would argue that in the case of the Doylestown photographs Rourke is only half right. Locked as we are in the monadic house, imprisoned amongst its nooks and crannies, pushed into its corners, thresholds barred and our sense of space impeded, we see only the interior. Light blackens the windows, denying them their transparency, making this house a windowless place: from inside we cannot see outside.

Recalling Williams’ reading of Sheeler’s abstract leanings, the concern of both works with the Americanness of their subject is taken to its extreme, admittedly, for laudable reasons. Barn Abstraction is ripped from its context, and is no longer surrounded by the Pennsylvanian landscape, as one might expect, but the whiteness of the Japanese paper on which it is drawn. 96 Again, the relationship between beauty and function is highlighted, but in conjunction with harmony. I draw attention to these aspects because ideas of harmony and the notion of function are important for the artwork in Adorno’s aesthetic theory, a subject discussed in later chapters.

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