Charles Sheeler. Yachts. 1924

Charles Sheeler Yachts 1924

  • Not on view

Charles Sheeler's Delmonico Building is a quintessential example of American Precisionism of the 1920s, translated to lithography. A landmark hotel in New York City at the time, the Delmonico was a towering midtown skyscraper, admired for its setback form. The building typifies the kind of structure that Sheeler and other American artists working in the hard-edged, planar, and geometric style known as Cubist-Realism, and later called Precisionism, found inspiring.

In the teens, Sheeler made the transition from academically trained painter to cutting-edge modernist through his interest in industrial design and his work as an architectural photographer, along with his exposure to contemporary European art. The artist is not known to have used a photograph as the basis for Delmonico Building, but the subject, unusual vantage point, and use of light relate to his work on the 1920 film Manhatta, a collaboration with photographer Paul Strand that evokes the dynamism of early-twentieth-century New York through avant-garde film techniques.

The lithograph Yachts relates to a project that Sheeler had planned with Strand in the 1920s, a film about the New York Yacht Club. Although the film never materialized, Sheeler completed an oil painting and a drawing on the subject in 1922. The print, made two years later, further refines the graceful forms of these earlier works through an elegant use of abstracted detail and subtle handling of gray tones.

In only three additional lithographs, Sheeler chose as subjects a barn, a still life, and an industrial landscape, again crystallizing studies of form first explored in other mediums. He made all five of his lithographs between 1918 and 1928 at the workshop of George C. Miller, a well-known printer who collaborated with several important American artists, giving the medium a modern cachet. Sheeler's final print, a color screenprint from 1954, was again an architectural rendering, based on a painting.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Jennifer Roberts, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 118.
Medium
Lithograph
Dimensions
composition: 7 7/8 x 9 13/16" (20 x 24.9 cm); sheet: 11 7/16 x 16" (29 x 40.7 cm)
Publisher
the artist, New York
Printer
George C. Miller, New York
Edition
35
Credit
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Object number
1266.1940
Department
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.