The Buggy, Pennsylvania

Object Details

Title:

The Buggy, Pennsylvania

Artist/Maker(s):

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883 - 1965)

Culture:

American

Date:

1917

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions:

19.5 x 24.4 cm (7 11/16 x 9 5/8 in.)

Copyright:

Status undetermined

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In this dramatically illuminated image of a Bucks County barn interior, a parked buggy takes center stage. Charles Sheeler created the vivid contrast between light and dark by placing a photographer's lamp at the far end of the barn. The soft shadows on the right wall of the barn imbue the image with a sense of mystery. Rough-hewn, wooden planks marking the entrance to the stall produce the effect of a picture within a picture, much like a frame around a painting.

An overwhelming sense of abandonment permeates the scene. How many years has this buggy remained unused in its stall? In many ways, this photograph documents a disappearing way of life. At the time this image was made, gas and steam-powered vehicles began to replace horse-drawn carriages on America's roadways.

Domestic and utilitarian objects fascinated Charles Sheeler. He collected early American furniture and photographed interiors in his native Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Sheeler often used these photographs as studies for paintings and drawings.

Exhibitions
Experimental Photography: The Painter-Photographer (July 5, 1989 to October 7, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 5 to September 26, 1989
  • Williams College Museum of Art, (Williamstown), July 28 to October 7, 1990
The American Tradition and Walker Evans (July 10 to October 28, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 10 to October 28, 2001
Photographers of Genius (March 16 to July 25, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16 to July 25, 2004
Bibliography

The American Tradition & Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum) fig. 3.