Artist: Charles Sheeler (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1883–1965 Dobbs Ferry, New York)

Date: 1945

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 24 × 29 1/4 in. (61 × 74.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1949

Accession Number: 49.128


In painting and photography, Sheeler presented his interest in industry’s robust architecture. He viewed American factories and industrial plants as modern-day equivalents to the Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Expressing his belief in machinery’s powerful symbolism, he said, "Industry concerns the greatest numbers—it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious expression." Here, Sheeler adopted techniques from his photographic practice—cropping, sharply angled views—and applied them to painting, presenting the water plant’s massive system of pipes and buttressed towers as an imposing contemporary monument.