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Incantation

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"
COLLECTIONS American Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 49.67
CREDIT LINE Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and John B. Woodward Memorial Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Orphaned work
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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
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RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (83%)
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