Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Water depicts one of the power generators built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s, when hydroelectric power was being distributed throughout the Tennessee River region of the United States. Sheeler’s experience as a photographer influenced his Precisionist style of painting, in which he emphasized the geometric shapes of objects in a hard-edged, clearly lit manner. For Sheeler, these monumental, streamlined forms signified human ingenuity in harnessing nature’s power. His interpretation of American industry was somewhat idealized: workers are never shown, and the machinery is pristine and gleaming, free of any dirt or smoke. Sheeler expressed his feelings about the emotional symbolism of technology when he wrote: “Every age manifests itself by some external evidence. In a period such as ours when only a comparatively few individuals seem to be given to religion, some form other than the Gothic cathedral must be found. Industry concerns the greatest numbers—it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious expression” (quoted in Constance Rourke, Charles Sheeler: Artist in the American Tradition, 1938).
Particularly in the early years of her career, Moses frequently chose subjects that were staples of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century illustration. Catching the turkey—part of the annual Thanksgiving ritual—was one such theme that Moses painted numerous times. Though she often repeated subjects, no two compositions were ever alike
Location: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis
In 1948 Hans Hofmann wrote the essay The Search for the Real in the Visual Arts in which the lifelong teacher and theorist outlined his thoughts on the formal aspects of painting. Hofmann believed that a painting should remain true to its two-dimensional form, rather than containing three-dimensional perspective. Interest could be added to a painting through contrasting shapes, colours, and textures, which Hofmann termed “push and pull.” This is displayed in Poème d’amour through the contrasting use of dripped paint and rigid geometric forms.
Cuyp’s masterful depiction of Dordrecht differs extensively from Jan van Goyen’s View of Dordrecht from the Dordtse Kil, 1644, a calm and serene view of this island city. Here the river Maas is the focus of great activity; in the foreground a dignitary dressed in a black jacket with an orange sash has just arrived at a large sailing ship. He is greeted by a distinguished–looking gentleman who stands among other figures, including a man beating a drum. On the left, a second rowboat approaches, carrying other dignitaries and a trumpeter who signals their impending arrival. Most of the ships of the large fleet anchored near the city have their sails raised and flags flying as though they are about to embark. The early morning light, which floods the tower of the great church and creates striking patterns on the clouds and sails, adds to the dramatic character of the scene.
Cuyp was probably commissioned to represent an event that occurred during the summer of 1646. At that time an enormous fleet of ships carrying thirty thousand soldiers was anchored at Dordrecht; presumably for symbolic purposes rather than for specific military ones as peace was finally at hand. The Treaty of Münster, which ended all hostilities with Spain and created an independent Dutch nation, was signed only two years later.