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Charles Sheeler


Aliases: Charles Sheeler, Charles R. Sheeler, Charles Rettew (Junior) Sheeler

Painter, Lithographer, Photographer

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(b Philadelphia 1883; d New York City 1965) American painter and photographer. Charles Sheeler began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1903. Around 1910 he began commercial photography while supporting himself as a painter. He became known for his stark photographs of Philadelphia’s buildings and industrial areas. Throughout his career Sheeler chose functional subjects and depicted them with sharply defined forms, capturing and abstracting existent patterns in his paintings as only a photographer could. Sheeler's ability to find beauty in the functional and create reductive images free from superlative detail spoke both to the nation's Puritan history and its industrial future, pioneering a new American aesthetic. Sheeler depicts industrial subjects as the temples of urban modernity, eliminating the unattractive side of industry and reducing it to a pristine, Utopian ideal. Indeed, many critics have regarded him as an artist whose work epitomizes a clear-eyed native, visual tradition; he has been considered a pragmatic Yankee whose no-nonsense, efficient approach to picturemaking reflects America's historic virtues. (Credit: Christie’s, New York, Important American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, May 24, 2007, Lot 28).

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