Conversation - Sky and Earth
Oil on canvas
28 x 23 in.
signed and dated l.l.: Sheeler - 1940
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
In 1938, Fortune magazine commissioned Sheeler to create a pictorial essay on the theme of modern energy production. The artist traveled to Nevada, New York, and Alabama, completing six paintings for the project, including this depiction of the Hoover Dam, located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada.
In preparation for this painting, Sheeler first photographed the Hoover Dam from a range of vantage points, ultimately selecting as his template a dramatically cropped image taken from below the base of the dam. He portrayed in extreme perspective an electrical transmission tower, its wires slicing across a crystalline sky as they carry electricity to other parts of the country. Blazing desert light, combined with the artist’s precise brushstrokes, results in an astonishing visual clarity that contributes a sense of unreality to the scene, evoking the disorienting impact of this monumental new landscape of hydroelectric power.
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)