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Suspended Power, 1939

Charles Sheeler

Dallas Museum of Art

In 1938 Fortune magazine commissioned Charles Sheeler to create a series of images on the theme of power. Over the next two years, he created a series of photographs and eventually six paintings exploring industrial, mechanical, and natural power in the United States. Suspended Power depicts a hydraulic turbine being lowered into place at a new hydroelectric power dam in Guntersville, Alabama. This painting has a recognizable photographic prototype but Sheeler didn’t merely replicate the photograph. Rather, he combined two different perspectives in the painting, reduced the number of figures in the plant, and significantly cleaned up the industrial interior.

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