Using the Amon Carter’s collection of American art and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Picturing America project, explore masterworks of American art and the artists who made them while discussing how these works connect American culture and history.

This project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

National Endowment for the Humanities Picturing America Program Participant

Artist Biography

Born in Philadelphia, Charles Sheeler (1883--1965) studied at the School of Industrial Design, located in his hometown, from 1900 to 1903 before enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He embraced European modern art and in 1908 traveled to Europe with his friend the abstract painter Morton Schamberg (1881--1918). In New York's Armory Show of 1913, Sheeler exhibited Cézanne-inspired landscapes and still lifes. Shortly thereafter he became increasingly drawn to abstract qualities inherent in familiar objects and structures, painting the innate geometry of a Shaker chair, a Buck County barn, or examples of America's new industrial architecture. He took up commercial photography around 1910 and became a respected specialist in architectural subjects. His important 1927 commission to photograph the Ford Motor Company's River Rouge Plant led to a series of drawings and paintings that demonstrate how deftly he managed to merge photography and painting over the course of his career. Sheeler applied the abstract-design principles of modern painting to his photographs, while imparting the precision of the camera to his paintings and graphic work. In 1939, he was accorded a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.