In the last two weeks I've had the great luck to see paintings of powerful machines. The Dallas Museum of Art is showing paintings by Charles Sheeler known as the "Power Series". Sheeler made the paintings on commission for Fortune magazine in the late 1930's to celebrate mankind's attempts to harness nature. The images are of an old-fashioned waterwheel, a coal shovel, a steam turbine, a hydroelectric power turbine, an airplane propeller, the wheels of a locomotive, and electrical power transmission towers at Boulder Dam.
Sheeler referred to himself as a "Precisionist". His paintings show no brush strokes, and are closely related to his photographs. They are completely unlike my own artistic tastes, and yet I've always been fond of them. This piece is owned by the Dallas Museum of Art, and always holds my attention:
As the daughter of engineers I visited construction sites, industrial plants, hydroelectric dams, and noteworthy architectural sites as a child. I was well aware of the construction of Interstate 80 across Nebraska. The highlight of any trip to McCook, Nebraska, with the Interstate construction detours, was a visit to the bridge over the railroad tracks at the train station. Watching trains pass beneath the bridge was as much fun for me as it was for Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. I thank the Out of Lascaux blogger for these images of Sheeler's paintings.
Now it's time for a different Power collection, painted by a five-year-old boy. Here are two tempera paintings from Sam's "Three Machines" series. How terrific that his concepts of machines include both grid structures and radiating energy!