June 28th, 2012 by Monica Murgia
Summer is here, and I’ve been seized with an uncontrollable urge to paint. Whenever I’m in front of a canvas, I’m not quite sure what I will make. I let the painting emerge by itself, often preoccupied by mixing colors and experimenting with the media. Sometimes people ask me what I’m painting. I always tell them I’m not sure, that I am just having fun.
Today at work, I was introduced to the work of Charles Sheeler (1883-1965). His Tree and Landscape (1947) painting reminded me of something I made at the beginning of the summer.
Sheeler was one of the central figures in American modernist art. A Philadelphia native, Sheeler studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under William Merritt Chase
(another American Impressionist painter I love). In addition to painting, Sheeler was a self-taught photographer. His compositions were very geometric, influenced by Cubism and his photography of cityscapes.
A precisionist, Sheeler’s paintings walk the line between representation and abstraction. Precisionism was an American movement in the 1920s that emphasised precise, sharply defined gemoetric forms.
This movement was a reaction to the machine age and industrialization in America. I think that is why his paintings of nature are really sweet. He was somehow able to capture how nature can transform a man-made environment.
The flattened surface plane and saturated hues evoke memories and impressions of nature. My favorite compositions are of trees. I can almost hear the wind swirling in between the branches.
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