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About This Artwork
Oil and graphite on canvas
51 x 61.5 cm (20 x 24 1/4 in.)
Signed and dated lower right: Demuth / 1921
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.529
In 1921 Charles Demuth returned to his native Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and began painting its industrial landscape. This starkly rectilinear composition depicts a building head-on. In choosing a flat subject that mimics the surface of the canvas, Demuth embraced the modernist ideal of unifying form and content. A member of the Dadaist circle in New York, Demuth also added a touch of characteristic Dada irreverence to his picture, painting a calendar onto the building’s windows to highlight the inherent repetition and boredom of modern business. At his death, Demuth bequeathed Business to his long-time friend and supporter Georgia O’Keeffe.
Permanent collection label
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art, April 16-May 15, 1921, p. 12, cat. 96.
New York, Steinway Hall, 119 W. 57th St., Machine-Age Exposition, May 16-28, 1927, p. 28, cat. 347.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, History of an American: Alfred Stieglitz, 291 and After, July 1-November 1, 1944, p. 36, cat. 287.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Alfred Stieglitz: His Collection, June 10-August 31, 1947, cat. 19.
Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz: His Photographs and Collection, February 2-29, 1948, no cat.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Charles Demuth, March 7-June 11, 1950, pp. 75, 92, cat. 112 (ill.); traveled to Detroit Institute of Arts, October 1-29, 1950, Coral Gables, Florida, University of Miami, November 20-December 12, 1950, Winnipeg Art Gallery, December 28, 1950-January 18, 1951, Williamstown, Mass., Williams College, February 3-24, 1950, Newark, Del., University of Delaware, March 10-31, 1951, Oberlin College, April 14-May 5, 1951, Buffalo, Albright Art Gallery, May 19-June 9, 1951 (New York only).
Art Galleries, University of California, Santa Barbara, Charles Demuth: The Mechanical Encrusted on the Living, October 5-November 14, 1971, pp. 55, 83, cat. 80 (ill.); traveled to University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, November 22, 1971-January 3, 1972, Washington, D.C., Phillips Collection, January 19-February 29, 1972, Utica, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, March 19-April 16, 1972.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Modern: Charles Demuth of Lancaster, July 16-September 11, 1983, p. 48, cat. 20 (ill.); traveled to Lancaster, Pa., Heritage Center of Lancaster County, October 1-November 13, 1983, and Pittsburgh, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, November 23, 1983-January 22, 1984.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Charles Demuth, October 15, 1987-January 17, 1988, p. 158, cat. 70 (ill.); traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 25-April 24, 1988, Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Museum of Art, May 8-July 10, 1988, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, August 7-October 2, 1988.
Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, American Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture 1913-1993, May 8-July 25, 1993, p. 479, cat. 44; traveled to London, Royal Academy of Arts and the Saatchi Gallery, September 16-December 12, 1993.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Dada: 1915-1923, November 20, 1996-March 2, 1997.
Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Alfred Stieglitz and His Circle: Modernity in New York (1905–1930), October 18, 2004–January 16, 2005; traveled to Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, February 10-May 17, 2005 (Paris only).
Lille, France, Lille Métropole musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, The Magical City, September 19, 2012-January 13, 2013.
S. Lane Faison, Jr., "Fact and Art in Charles Demuth," Magazine of Art, 43, no. 4 (April 1950), p. 128.
Emily Farnham, "Charles Demuth: His Life, Psychology and Works" (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1959), vol. 2, pp. 568-69, no. 400.
Alvord L. Eiseman, "A Study of the Development of an Artist: Charles Demuth" (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1975), vol. 2, pp. 357-58, ill. no. 213.
Alvord L. Eiseman, Charles Demuth (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1982), pp. 17, 21, 25.
Richard Guy Wilson, Dianne H. Pilgrim, and Dickran Tashjian, The Machine Age in America, 1918-1941, exh. cat. (Brooklyn Museum, 1986), p. 234.
Betsy Fahlman, "Charles Demuth's Paintings of Lancaster Architecture: New Discoveries and Observations," Arts Magazine, 61, no. 7 (March 1987), pp. 24, 28-29, fig. 21.
Karen Lucic, Charles Sheeler and the Cult of the Machine (London: Reaktion Books, 1991), p. 72, fig. 28.
James M. Dennis, Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), pp. 208, 210 (ill.).
Celeste Connor, Democratic Visions: Art and Theory of the Stieglitz Circle, 1924-1934 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 145-48, fig. 32.
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. 33.
The artist; bequeathed to Georgia O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, N.M., and New York, N.Y., 1935; given by Georgia O'Keeffe to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1949.