Painter · Photographer
Born July 16, 1883, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died May 7, 1965, New York, New York
[Charles Sheeler] gives you a factual painting--whether it be a waterwheel, an airplane, a locomotive or a maze of machinery--but he gives you a bright and shining conception at its moment of utter and immaculate perfection; at that precise moment when the slanting shafts of a benevolent sun put things in their very best light.-Grace Pagano
A leading modernist, Charles Sheeler was one of the few artists to earn recognition as both a painter and photographer. Trained as a painter, Sheeler turned to photography in 1910 in order to earn a living. He worked as a free-lance photographer in Philadelphia and, subsequently, in New York, hired by the prestigious publishing firm of Conde Nast. Sheeler's work as an art photographer influenced his painting, cultivating his interest in architectural subjects and abstract geometric form. Intrigued by strong lines and abstract form, Sheeler drew inspiration from traditions as diverse as European cubism and African sculpture. As a painter, Sheeler led the development of Precisionism, a movement begun in the 1920s that distilled industrial subjects into simplified geometric forms. Sheeler's work from the 1920s to the 1950s established his reputation as a Precisionist painter of urban and industrial scenes, as well as rural barns and floral still lifes.