Amon Carter print details

Chimney and Water Tower

Charles Demuth (1883-1935)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on composition board

  • Dimensions

    30 x 24 in.

  • Inscriptions


    l.r. signed and dated: C. D. '31


    u.l. in ink on white label: National Gallery \ 1 [circled]

    u.l. in crayon [?]: 2 [circled] 17-P \ Demuth #3 \ M [circled]

    u.c in graphite: X

    u.c. in crayon [?]: Chimney & Water Tower \ 1931

    u.c label: Cat 114

    u.c. in graphite: C1

    u.c. in ink, on printed label from an American Place: Chimney and Water Tower \ 1931 \ by Charles Demuth \ 13 [circled and upside down]

    u.c. on American Place label: star shaped sticker

    u.c in graphite: [drawing of bird] $6000.00 [last two zeroes underlined]

    u.r. in graphite: S158

    c.l. in graphite: 48 \ [line] \ 63

    c.l. in graphite: [drawing of misshapen A]

    c.r. stamped in ink: COLLECTION \ AS [AS underlined] [COLLECTION and AS surrounded by a square]

    c.r. stamped in ink: COLLECTION \ AS [AS underlined] [COLLECTION and AS surrounded by a square]

    l.l. on fragment of label with border: 7-19 [illeg.]

    l.l. typewritten on printed label from Whitney Museum of American Art: 1931 [in graphite] \ Charles Demuth \ Chimney and Water Tower \ An American Place \ 509 Madison, NYC \ 29 3/4 x 24 [in graphite]

    l.c. in graphite: L

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

Demuth witnessed firsthand the industrial boom of the 1920s. His home was just a few blocks from the sprawling, 31-acre Armstrong Cork Company facility, at the time the nation’s leading producer of linoleum flooring and an employer of nearly 10 percent of Lancaster’s population.

Demuth made several paintings of the Armstrong facility, and Chimney and Water Tower was the first. The picture portrays one of the plant’s smokestacks and a water tower. Rendered in warm red and cool gray, these two monumental landmarks bisect a horizontal cloud, creating a cruciform shape that suggests a link between the adoration of industry and religious devotion. Through his sharp, geometric compositions, Demuth offered a triumphal narrative of modern industry and American exceptionalism, but the Great Depression challenged his optimistic vision. Within two years, Armstrong laid off 50 percent of its workforce in a devastating blow to the local community.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by Charles Demuth


Educator Resources
  • What buildings are important in a community? How might the answer to that question differ depending upon who is answering?

    Is there beauty in utilitarian objects?

    Why might an artist choose to depict something from an unexpected vantage point?

    Why might an artist choose to paint in a precise and geometric style?

  • All Levels

    The artist was inspired by the modern art movement that was developing during his lifetime. He, like other artists of the modern art movement, chose unconventional, or nontraditional, subjects and perspectives. To paint factories, such as the one featured in this painting, and to raise the line of sight above street level were unusual artistic choices. Ask students to sketch a building from their community, but to sketch it from a nontraditional viewpoint. Will they look at the building from above? Below? Will they highlight a special detail of the building? Will they include the whole building or only a part? Feel free to provide a straightedge so that students can mimic Demuth’s precisionist style.

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