From the outset of his artistic career, Charles Sheeler favored compositions of room interiors or architecture distinguished by their austere clarity and attention to hard-edged geometric forms. By the late 1920s Sheeler was almost exclusively focused on industrial architectural subjects, finding in the expansive, streamlined masses of factory buildings and refineries the modern equivalent of the imposing religious architecture of the past. Incantation, whose very title refers to some sort of spiritual evocation, is a fragmentary view of a continuous-flow oil production plant. Here Sheeler's increasingly abstract treatment of his subjects is visible in the reduction of the architectural forms to a more decorative, two-dimensional design in which shadows play as weighty a role as the metal tanks and pipes. The lack of a human presence suggests the degree to which these vast plants had come to be viewed as nearly autonomous forces.
- Artist: Charles Sheeler, American, 1883-1965
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dates: 1946
- Dimensions: 24 1/8 x 20 1/8 in. (61.3 x 51.1 cm) (show scale)
- Signature: Signed and dated lower right: "Sheeler -- 1946"
- Collections:American Art
- Museum Location: This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Modern Life, 5th Floor
- Accession Number: 49.67
- Credit Line: Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and John B. Woodward Memorial Fund
- Rights Statement: Orphaned work
- Caption: Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965). Incantation, 1946. Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 20 1/8 in. (61.3 x 51.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and John B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 49.67
- Record Completeness: Best (83%)