Skip Navigation


Charles Sheeler

American Art

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.

MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1946
DIMENSIONS 24 1/8 x 20 1/8 in. (61.3 x 51.1 cm) frame: 32 3/4 x 38 3/4 x 3 in. (83.2 x 98.4 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower right: "Sheeler -- 1946"
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and John B. Woodward Memorial Fund
After diligent research, the Museum is unable to locate contact information for the artist or artist's estate, or there are no known living heirs.

Copyright for this work may be controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders. A more detailed analysis of its rights history may, however, place it in the public domain.

The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.

For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
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
IMAGE overall, 49.67_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.