An Afternoon with Mr. Demuth

It wasn’t until later in his career that Lancaster, Pennsylvania born artist Charles Demuth began painting in watercolor. The American produced a swath or beautiful industrial works in the style of Precisionism, a technique he helped create. I spent the afternoon at the Whitney Museum yesterday with Hopper, Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz & Mr. Demuth and figured a few of his works would look nice on the walls around here. I’ve never seen a grain elevator look so good.

Comments on “An Afternoon with Mr. Demuth

    Fred H. on January 3, 2011 7:07 AM:

    Micahel — Boy do I like this artist. Agree with your assessment of the grain elevator. Would love to see Demuth do some other subjects, such as some of the buildings in the historic mining towns surrounding Denver.

    Coco on January 3, 2011 7:34 AM:

    He’s one of my favorites…

    Diane Faye Zerr on January 3, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Lancaster has some great buildings to paint, and Charles Demuth has always been a favorite of mine. Great post!

    K.A. Adams on January 3, 2011 9:14 AM:

    Don’t forget Gerald Murphy ! ( Whose family owned the Mark Cross leather goods company )

    scott on January 3, 2011 10:12 AM:

    I’m no fan of factories, after having spent a number of years working in one, but I can still appreciate when someone captures the beauty or the ugliness of them.
    Check out this Frank Carmichael
    and these paintings by Lawren Harris
    and J.E.H. MacDonald

    geoffrey cecil on January 3, 2011 12:23 PM:

    another great post, mw. i fell in love with charles demuth the very first time the crossed lines of my egypt crossed my own. a fascination with grain elevators soon followed, and i was lucky enough to come across lisa mahar-keplinger’s book at powell’s in the late nineties. astonishing find for its artistic merit as well as it’s obsessive technical accuracy. pick it up if you can.

    Luke on January 3, 2011 3:17 PM:

    wooow great post. factories are intense.
    that reminds me of this
    factories were just left to be abandoned, the photos people take of abandoned factories are eery

    Sarah on January 3, 2011 3:26 PM:

    I just saw a few paintings and photographs by Charles Sheeler in the new American Art wing at the MFA in Boston. Thanks for reminding me of Charles Demuth and the other artists from Precisionism. It is a gigantic show covering the entire history of American art, so of course a lot was left out, so I think I’ll have to make my way up to the Whitney because I love Stieglitz as well.

    Ye Ole General on January 3, 2011 5:24 PM:

    Thanks Michael; great post!

    John E. on January 3, 2011 9:13 PM:

    Lancaster’s a GREAT place & Demuth represented it well. Consider it when you want to pay a visit to the provinces. His home is a small museum. The Central Market is magnificent!!! You won’t be disappointed.

    Shepherd on January 3, 2011 10:17 PM:

    Swell paintings and thanks for pointing them out. Old industry is beautiful, and he captures that well.

    I might have called the post “Demuth in the Afternoon.” Felicitous, yes?

    TMH on January 3, 2011 11:32 PM:

    I know what I like and I like this

    Sawyer on January 4, 2011 4:23 PM:

    These could inspire architects to build more appealing factories.

    Cedric B on January 4, 2011 4:46 PM:

    Great choice of colors. Could very well hang on my walls. Thanks for the post.

    Al James on January 5, 2011 3:16 AM:

    Daniel Robinson from Fossil, Oregon is a master of painting these old, hulking industrial landscapes. He’s out West and focuses on what he finds out here. It’s like de Chirico or Hopper painting the lonesome, broken down West. He’s represented in Boston and Portland, Ore. Amazing stuff…

    Boston’s Mercury Gallery –
    Portland’s Charles Hartman –

    Aaron on January 5, 2011 3:52 AM:

    Wow, these are beautiful. The post inspired me to dig a bit deeper and his Wikipedia entry says that he turned to oils later in his career, having started out as a watercolourist.

    William Zartman on January 5, 2011 1:38 PM:

    Pennsylvania Dutchmen will rise again, meeting industrial sites instead of barns. Dumuth’s work is clear, light, uplifting. He should team up with Nancy Nicholson of Brooklyn who does stained glass depictions of the same types of scenes.

    Jemaleddin on January 19, 2011 5:11 PM:

    Aaron above (and Wikipedia) is correct. At the DeMuth house in Lancaster you can view his early watercolors which were the work that paid the bills at the time – mostly flower arrangements. His move to precisionism and oils was not met with great success however, but he left his paintings to Georgia O’Keefe, a longtime friend, who carefully distributed them to just the right galleries and built his renown.

    You’ve left out “The Figure 5 in Gold” – a stunning piece dedicated to his recently deceased friend and lover William Carlos Williams (yes, the poet), and the print that hangs in my living room: From the Garden of the Chateau.

    He was also a lifelong diabetic and one of the first people to take artificial insulin. A truly interesting artist who gets more exciting the more you learn about him. Thanks for highlighting his work!

    Veronica on January 23, 2011 3:58 AM:

    thanks for this post, beautiful works

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