Charles  Sheeler (1883-1965) Architectural Cadences 6 1/4 x 9 1/8in, image; 9 3/4 x 12in, sheet  (Executed in 1954.)
Lot 9
Charles Sheeler
(1883-1965)
Architectural Cadences 6 1/4 x 9 1/8in, image; 9 3/4 x 12in, sheet
Sold for US$ 162,500 inc. premium

American Art

23 May 2018, 14:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE F. WIGHT, CALIFORNIA
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
Architectural Cadences
signed, dated and inscribed 'To Joan + Fred Wight with deep appreciation. Charles Sheeler 1954' (in the lower margin)
gouache and pencil on paper laid down on paper
6 1/4 x 9 1/8in, image; 9 3/4 x 12in, sheet
Executed in 1954.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Joan and Frederick S. Wight, California, gift of the above, 1954.
    By descent to the present owner from the above.

    Exhibited
    Claremont, California, Pomona College, Montgomery Art Gallery, and elsewhere, Works on Paper 1900-1960 from Southern California Collections, September 18-December 31, 1977, pp. 62, 94-95, no. 70, illustrated.

    Literature
    P. Sims, Charles Sheeler: A Concentration of Works from the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1980, p. 29, footnote 25.

    Charles Sheeler found inspiration throughout his career in American architecture and its geometric shapes and forms. In Architectural Cadences, Sheeler translates that subject in his mature, abstracted style. In the artist's later works from the 1950s, buildings are translated into flattened inter-locking forms in varying degrees of transparency, which are strengthened by a vibrant color palette. The result, evident in Architectural Cadences, is a precise form of abstraction that is distinct to the artist.

    Sheeler was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After the completion of his artistic training, by 1910, he settled in Doylestown and taught himself photography, a skill which employed him for many years and became a major component in his artistic method as a painter.

    Sheeler became an accomplished photographer and his skill in the medium translated into the precise compositions of his paintings and works on paper, including Architectural Cadences. The effect of a double image, illustrated by layered architectural forms which overlap in foreground and cascade into skeletal frames among clouds, read much like photographic images subjected to double exposure techniques. Martin Friedman wrote of Architectural Cadences, "The contours of the grain elevator...merge with the vaporous outlines of other industrial structures and areas of pure abstraction exist within the picture's realistic ambience. In these passages, shed roofs and other basic details become non-associative lines and planes defined with great clarity." (M. Friedman, Charles Sheeler, New York, 1975, p. 169)

    The present work was completed after the oil painting dually titled, Architectural Cadences, from 1954, currently in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Modeled after this original composition, it was a unique work reproduced as an edition of serigraph prints. According to the original owner of the present work, Frederick S. Wight, these prints were issued at the suggestion of Edith Halpert, of The Downtown Gallery, New York, to be given with compliments to those individuals who helped underwrite the cost of color reproductions published in the exhibition catalogue for Sheeler's 1954 retrospective at the University of California, Los Angeles. (P. Sims, Charles Sheeler: A Concentration of Works from the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1980, footnote 25). Halpert had represented Sheeler at The Downtown Gallery since 1931.

    It was Frederick S. Wight, an artist and writer living in Los Angeles, who organized Sheeler's retrospective exhibition at UCLA in 1954. Wight began working for UCLA in 1953 as Director of the Art Department and presided over their exhibition program. His tenure was culminated by the inception of the university's Wight Art Gallery in 1974. As an educator, artist, writer and patron of the arts, he encouraged much of the artistic culture that developed in the city during this period and still defines the city of Los Angeles today. After his retirement from the university in 1973, Wight exhibited his own body of work extensively and is today acknowledged as an important contemporary Californian artist.

    By the 1950s, Sheeler was awarded numerous accolades of distinction for his contributions to the American Modernist tradition of painting. Carol Troyen and Erica Hirshler concluded that "the best of Sheeler's work, early and late, is about the conflation of shadow and substance, of the remembered and the freshly seen, and how a new vision triggers treasured memories." (C. Troyen and E.E. Hirshler, Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, Boston, Massachusetts, 1987, pp. 42-43)
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