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Conclusion

While Sheeler admired artists who directly incorporated political, social, and historical subjects into their work, he himself chose not to pursue such themes. Over the course of his career he instead explored the relevance of photography, film, commercial photography, and photomontage for more traditional artistic practices and identities. Whether depicting the American house, city, or factory, he made the objective machine aesthetic of the camera the basis for works that, although largely devoid of people, still sustain a palpable connection with the viewer. It is the sense of a fleeting, yet meaningful, human presence in the midst of the forces of industry, technology, and art itself that haunts Sheeler's works and makes them so poignant. As Sheeler's friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, wrote: "Charles Sheeler has lived in a mechanical age... [with] a realization on the part of the artist, of man's pitiful weakness and at the same time his fate in the world. These themes are for the major artist. These are the themes which under the cover of his art Sheeler has celebrated."1

1. William Carlos Williams, "Postscript by a Poet," Art in America 42 (October 1954): 215.
Introduction | Photography | Film | Commercial Photography | Mixing Media | Photomontage | Conclusion
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