My Egypt, 1927
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Charles Demuth’s final series of paintings, begun in 1927, depict industrial buildings in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In My Egypt, the commanding presence of the Lancaster grain elevator dominates the composition like a sacred monument, underscoring Demuth’s conviction that the structure was a modern-day equivalent of ancient Egyptian pyramids. With its resolute, geometric forms and diagonal lines that suggest shafts of ascending light, the painting invokes the correlations between industry and religion that were widespread in the 1920s.