Object Details




Charles Sheeler (American, 1883 - 1965)




New York, United States (Place created)




Gelatin silver print


16.8 x 24.4 cm (6 5/8 x 9 5/8 in.)


Status undetermined

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Close-up, this monumental object becomes a different object. The drive wheel and rounded edges of the locomotive's condenser cylinders are barely contained within the frame, which harnesses the engine's powerful movement. With this photograph, Charles Sheeler demonstrated the camera's ability to represent the dynamism of the Machine Age.

Sheeler was a Precisionist painter whose style was marked by sharply defined geometric forms and flat planes of focus. Fittingly, he took this photograph while on a commission from Fortunemagazine to create a series of paintings entitled "Power." Like many photographers, Sheeler frequently used his camera in the same way that a painter uses a sketchbook. This photograph was eventually used as a study for a painting, but it has the strength of a fully realized image.

Experimental Photography: The Machine Age (September 26 to December 10, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), September 26 to December 10, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Capturing Time: A Celebration of Photographs (December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998
Railroad Vision (March 3 to June 23, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 5 to June 23, 2002
The Artist and the Railway (April 18, 2008 to January 18, 2009) (108)
  • Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, April 18 to August 10, 2008
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), September 13, 2008 to January 18, 2009
Shared Intelligence: American Painting and the Photograph (February 4, 2011 to January 8, 2012)
  • Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus), February 4 to April 24, 2011
  • The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe), May 20 to September 11, 2011

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 113.

Lyden, Anne M. Railroad Vision, exh. brochure(Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum), fig. 2.