About This Artwork

Charles Demuth
American, 1883–1935

...And the Home of the Brave, 1931

Oil and graphite on fiber board
74.8 × 59.7 cm (29 1/2 × 23 1/2 in.)

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, gift of Georgia O'Keeffe, 1948.650

Charles Demuth’s still lifes and architectural studies display astonishing technical skill and testify to the refinement with which he manipulated abstract design. In his paintings of the early 1930s, the artist often interpreted structures in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Obviously not a literal representation of that location , . . . And the Home of the Brave—with its compressed and discontinuous space, emphasis on two- dimensional patterns, and rearrangement of observed facts into a new pictorial reality—is derived from Cubism. The accent on American urban and commercial forms acknowledges Demuth’s roots: specifically, the double water towers at the apex of the composition are adapted from those atop a Lancaster cigar factory, while the number 72 at the lower edge of the painting refers to a state highway—the Manheim Pike—running north from town. Demuth derived the title from the last line of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was adopted as the national anthem in 1931, the year in which he executed the painting. The ambiguity suggested by the title is characteristic of the artist’s ironic temperament. Like other American artists and intellectuals of the early twentieth century, he was simultaneously attracted to the vitality of contemporary civilization and the beauty and power of the machine, and conflicted about the inhuman aspects and utilitarian coarseness of the expanding industrial landscape of the United States.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York City, Whitney Museum of American Art, Charles Demuth Memorial Exhibition, Dec. 15, 1937-Jan. 16, 1938, cat. 37.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Charles Demuth, 1950, cat. 153.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, One Hundred-Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, Jan. 15-Mar. 13, 1955, cat. 236.

Paris, Musse National d’Art Moderne / Centre Georges Pompidou, Realismes entre Revolution et ReaConnon, Dec. 17, 1980-Apr. 20, 1981, p. 253; traveled to Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, May 10-June 30, 1981.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Precisionist Painting and American Photography, Sept. 9, 1982-Nov. 7, 1982, cat. 40; traveled to St. Louis Art Museum, Dec. 6, 1982-Jan. 30, 1983, Baltimore Museum of Art, Feb. 28-?, 1983, Des Moines Art Center, May 2-July 17, 1983, Cleveland Museum of Art, Aug. 15-Oct. 9, 1983.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Charles Demuth, Oct. 14, 1987-Jan. 16, 1988; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Feb. 25-Apr. 24, 1988.

LeHavre, France, Musee des Beaux Arts, Transparence 1920-1980, Sept. 14-Nov. 26, 1995.

Tokyo, ASAHI Shimbun, Masterworks of Modern Art from The Art Institute of Chicago; traveled to Nagaoka, Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Apr. 20-May 29, 1994, Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, June 10-July 24, 1994, Yokohama Museum of Art Aug. 6-Sept. 25, 1994.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Alfred Stieglitz and Modern Art in America, Jan. 28-Apr. 22, 2001.

Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Chimneys and Water Towers: Charles Demuth's Late Paintings of Lancaster, August 18-October 14, 2007; traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Museum of Art, November 17, 2007-January 20, 2008; Whitney Museum of American Art, February 23-April 27, 2008.

Art Institute of Chicago, "America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s," June 5-September 18, 2016; travels to Paris, Musee de l'Orangerie, October 15, 2016-January 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, February 25-June 4, 2017, cat. 12.

Publication History

The Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago, 43 (Nov. 1949), p. 65 (ill.).

Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 124.

James M. Dennis, Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), pp. 212-14 (ill.).

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 72.

"Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Highlights of the Collection," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 118.

Ownership History

The artist; bequeathed to Georgia O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, New Mexico, and New York, N.Y., 1935; given by Georgia O'Keeffe to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1948.

View mobile website