Charles Sheeler (American, 18831965)
Oil on canvas; 48 x 35 in. (121.9 x 91.4 cm)
Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection, Bequest of Edith Abrahamson Lowenthal, 1991 (1992.24.8)
Between 1926 and 1934, Sheeler produced a series of seven paintings that depict the interior of his home in South Salem, New York, and his collection of early American furnishings. The conflicting geometric patterns of the rugs, pillows, woven sofa covering, and backgammon set create a sense of visual disorientation in this scene, as do the unusual perspective and cropping of objects. However, the objects themselves are rendered in an extremely precise manner. This painting is as much a statement about national pride and the virtues of home and craftsmanship as it is a portrait of the artist's living space. Sheeler was not alone in his interest in these crafts; a number of influential collectors developed an interest in American folk and decorative arts in the 1920s and 1930s. In an era that placed increasing emphasis on technology and mass production, and in the years following the international crisis of World War I, such objects were nostalgic reminders of an ostensibly simpler time.