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Charles Sheeler
American, New York City, 1939
Gelatin silver print
6 5/8 x 9 5/8 in.
88.XM.22.7

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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 Fortune magazine 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.