Charles Sheeler’s “Power” Series
January 15–April 9, 2006
Charles Sheeler’s “Power” Series celebrates the founder of American modernism in one of his masterpiece projects.
In 1938, at the height of his career, acclaimed American modernist and self-proclaimed “precisionist” Charles Sheeler was commissioned by Fortune magazine to explore the theme of power in a series of works to be reproduced as a photo essay in the magazine.
Published in 1940, the Power series presented six instantly iconic images of humanity’s efforts to harness the forces of nature. The majority of the subjects represented in the Power series were modern, as were Sheeler’s working methods, as he embraced the possibilities of exploring the same material in photography and paint.
Charles Sheeler’s “Power” Series displays these paintings along with the early photographic studies Sheeler created in 1939 and archival material related to the published photo essay, allowing the viewer to follow this historic commission from creation to conclusion.
Sheeler was a self-proclaimed “precisionist” painter, a term that captures the absolute precision he used in his creations. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and left to study in Paris just as cubism’s popularity was exploding in 1909.
Sheeler soon returned to the U.S., and in 1912 he took up commercial photography to earn a living while he continued to paint, choosing to concentrate his photography on architectural images. By the time of his commission for Fortune magazine, Sheeler was one of the most acclaimed modernist artists of the day.
Charles Sheeler’s “Power” Series is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Dr. William Keyse Rudolph.
Image: Charles Sheeler, Suspended Power, 1939, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Edmund J. Kahn, 1985.143