Oil on canvas
Framed: 60 x 67.5 x 6 cm (23 5/8 x 26 9/16 x 2 3/8 in.); Unframed: 41 x 48.5 cm (16 1/8 x 19 1/8 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1977.43
Sheeler and his good friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, patronized speakeasies together during Prohibition.
Capturing the soaring heights of New York City, this painting is a dramatic bird's-eye view of Broadway and Wall Street, showing a conglomeration of buildings at left and center, and the Church Street elevated train at right. Sheeler based his composition on an image from the short movie Manhatta (1920-21), which he made with the photographer Paul Strand. One of the first avant-garde American films, Manhatta celebrates the dynamic metropolis through a series of carefully composed shots of Lower Manhattan. As typical with Sheeler's work, the artist simplified forms and eliminated textures in Church Street El to concentrate on rhythmic interplay of shapes and color, and patterns of light and shadow.
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