Charles SheelerAmerican (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1883 - 1965, Dobbs Ferry, New York)
Untitled (Electric Power Plant, New Bedford, Massachusetts)
Sheeler was drawn to industry and machinery throughout his career. He used both photography and painting to capture the factories he visited, observing that "photography records inalterably the single image, while painting records a plurality of images willfully directed by the artist."
Sponsored by Fortune magazine, Sheeler traveled to industrial sites such as the Boulder Dam and Tennessee Valley in the late 1930s. In this picture of a New England power plant, he captures a cluster of factories from an angle that compresses the space between them, leading the viewer to imagine that the tall smokestacks and the building in the foreground comprise a single structure. In fact, the smokestacks belong to an electric power plant, while the building is part of a coal gas manufacturing plant some distance away.