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

By Mark Rawlinson

Charles Sheeler used to be the stark poet of the laptop 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 actual courting to growth used to be actually hugely unfavourable, his 'precisionism' either skewed and obscure. masking the full oeuvre from images to portray and drawing realization to the inconsistencies, curiosities and 'puzzles' embedded in Sheeler's paintings, Rawlinson unearths a profound critique of the tactics of rationalisation and the stipulations of modernity. The ebook argues ultimately for a re-assessment of Sheeler's frequently brushed aside overdue paintings which, it indicates, could in simple terms be understood via an intensive shift in our realizing of the paintings of this famous determine.

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

Example text

The door at the bottom of the stairs is open, extending out toward the viewer, concealing a window to the left. Next to the window, nearest the viewer is a small mirror that is countered bottom right by a sliver of a chair and its shadow. The door is open, so one can ascend the stairs, but the darkness is forbidding; the window and mirror are redundant, as is – because of the little we see of it – the chair. Together this reordering of the visible and the imagined space exposes Bachelard’s dreamer of nooks and crannies to a degree of critique.

However, this thesis seeks to explore Sheeler’s work in a much broader context. Whether the works act as an outward manifestation of Sheeler’s insecurities or not, what is interesting is how these works operate on the level of access. Side of White Barn and Barn Abstraction refuse access to what lies either behind or inside them respectively and, in doing so, shift attention towards the forms of object within the works. 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.

The drive toward total abstraction – any overwhelming urge to become a Cubist or fully fledged abstract artist – reaches its apogee in Flower Forms. 72 American Cubism is lacking because, as an approach imported from Europe, American artists tended to submit completely to a ‘style’ of making art only to produce pictures incongruous with American culture. On the genesis of Cubism, Adorno says the following: Cubism could be interpreted as a form of reaction to a stage of the rationalisation of the social world that undertook its geometrical organisation; in these terms Cubism was an attempt to bring within the bounds of experience what is otherwise contrary to it, just as impressionism had sought to do at an earlier and not yet fully planned stage of industrialisation.

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