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domenica 19 giugno 2016

Charles Demuth (Lancaster, 9 novembre 1883 – Lancaster, 23 ottobre 1935)

Charles Demuth

Charles Demuth (Lancaster, 9 novembre 1883 – Lancaster, 23 ottobre 1935) è stato un pittore statunitense precisionista.



Demuth, nato a Lancaster in Pennsylvania, studiò presso l'Accademia delle Belle Arti di Philadelphia dove conobbe, alla locanda che gestiva, William Carlos Williams. Da lì nacque un'amicizia che sarebbe durata poi per tutta la vita.
Una volta terminati gli studi a Filadelfia, Demuth si trasferì per studio a Parigi presso l'Académie Colarossi e l'Académie Julian: qui divenne parte del movimento artistico dell'Avant garde. La comunità artistica si rivelò inoltre capace di accettare l'omosessualità di Demuth.
Nell'ambiente parigino conobbe anche Marsden Hartley, semplicemente avvicinandosi ad un gruppo di artisti americani a tavola e chiedendo se poteva sedersi con loro. Demuth aveva molto senso dell'umorismo e amava i doppi sensi. Marsden Hartley gli chiese di diventare membro permanente del loro gruppo.
Attraverso Hartley Demuth conobbe Alfred Stieglitz e divenne membro del Gruppo Stieglitz. In 1926, per la prima volta, ebbe un'esposizione personale presso una galleria di New York, gestita dal suo amico e compagno Alfred Stieglitz.
Demuth venne o ferito quando era bambino (all'età di soli quattro anni) o contrasse la poliomielite o la tubercolosi all'anca che lo rese zoppo e lo costrinse ad usare un bastone da passeggio. Sviluppò in seguito il diabete e fu una delle prime persone negli Stati Uniti a ricevere l'insulina. Passò gran parte della sua vita in condizioni di salute precarie, morendo a Lancaster all'età di soli 51 anni a causa di complicazioni diabetiche.
Il suo dipinto più famoso, "The Figure 5 in Gold", fu ispirato dalla poesia del suo amico William Carlos Williams "The Great Figure". Questo è uno di nove ritratti che Demuth creò per onorare il suo amico. Dipinse ritratti anche per artisti del calibro di Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, Charles Duncan, Marsden Hartley, John Marin e per scrittori quali Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill Wallace Stevens e Williams.
Ne creò uno anche per l'intrattenitore travestito Bert Savoy.

Charles Demuth - Figure 5, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Charles Demuth -

Charles Henry Buckius Demuth (November 8, 1883 – October 23, 1935) was an American watercolorist who turned to oils late in his career, developing a style of painting known as Precisionism.
"Search the history of American art," wrote Ken Johnson in The New York Times, "and you will discover few watercolors more beautiful than those of Charles Demuth. Combining exacting botanical observation and loosely Cubist abstraction, his watercolors of flowers, fruit and vegetables have a magical liveliness and an almost shocking sensuousness."
Demuth was a lifelong resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The home he shared with his mother is now the Demuth Museum, which showcases his work. He graduated from Franklin & Marshall Academy before studying at Drexel University and at Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While he was a student at PAFA, he participated in a show at the Academy, and also met William Carlos Williams at his boarding house. The two were fast friends and remained close for the rest of their lives.
He later studied at Académie Colarossi and Académie Julian in Paris, where he became a part of the avant garde art scene. The Parisian artistic community was accepting of Demuth's homosexuality. After his return to America, Demuth retained aspects of Cubism in many of his works.

Early life

Throughout his life, Demuth remained deeply attached to his place of birth, Lancaster, in which his family had owned a tobacco shop since 1770. Demuth's fondness for and attachment to Lancaster is reflected within the subject matter of many of his works. Demuth either suffered an injury when he was four years old, or may have had polio or tuberculosis of the hip, leaving him with a marked limp and required him to use a cane. He later developed diabetes and was one of the first people in the United States to receive insulin. Demuth pronounced his surname with emphasis upon the first syllable, earning him the nickname "Deem" among close friends. From 1909 and onwards, Demuth maintained a homosexual relationship with Robert Evans Locher, an Art Deco interior decorator and stage designer.


While he was in Paris he met Marsden Hartley by walking up to a table of American artists and asking if he could join them. He had a great sense of humor, rich in double entendres, and they asked him to be a regular member of their group. Through Hartley he met Alfred Stieglitz and became a member of the Stieglitz group. In 1926, he had a one-man show at the Anderson Galleries and another at Intimate Gallery, the New York gallery run by Stieglitz. Demuth was introduced to modernism during many trips to Europe between 1907 and 1921. Frequent trips from Lancaster to New York lead him to encounter many avant-garde styles and ideas, most notably Cubism, which is reflected in many of his works.

His most famous painting, The Figure Five in Gold, was inspired by his friend William Carlos Williams's poem "The Great Figure". Roberta Smith described the work in The New York Times: "Demuth's famous visionary accounting of Williams, I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, [is] a painting whose title and medallion-like arrangement of angled forms were both inspired by a verse the poet wrote after watching a fire engine streak past him on a rainy Manhattan street while waiting for Marsden Hartley, whose studio he was visiting, to answer his door." Describing its importance, Judith H. Dobrzynski in The Wall Street Journal wrote: "It's the best work in a genre Demuth created, the "poster portrait". It's a witty homage to his close friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, and a transliteration into paint of his poem, "The Great Figure". It's a decidedly American work made at a time when U.S. artists were just moving beyond European influences. It's a reference to the intertwined relationships among the arts in the 1920s, a moment of cross-pollination that led to American Modernism. And it anticipates pop art."


The work is one of nine poster portraits Demuth created to honor his creative friends; the others were devoted to artists Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, Charles Duncan, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and writers Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill, and Wallace Stevens. Painted during a period of recovery from illness, these paintings portray their respective painters and writers through referential objects and language, as opposed to literal depictions. These nine "poster portraits" combine letters and abstract shapes with realistic forms. These nine works proved to be a challenge for critics. One reviewer described the works as having been made in “a code for which we have not the key.”
Demuth began a series of paintings in 1919, inspired by the architecture of Lancaster. In creating these works, Demuth notably opted not to use watercolors, instead created the works in oil and tempera. Additionally, these works are larger than any of his others. They possess a notable balance between realism and abstraction. Demuth created works of this manner until 1933, two years before his untimely death.
Demuth, along with Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Sheeler, was a major contributor to the Precisionist art movement, which began to evolve in America around 1915. Demuth's works often depicted a specific range of forms in a quasi-Cubist, sharply defined manner, a characteristic of Precisionism. Frequently occurring scenes within both Demuth's works are urban and rural landscapes, often consisting of industrial features such as bridges, smoke stacks, and skyscapers. Demuth's "Aucassin and Nicolette," which can be viewed below, is an exemplary work of Precisionist art. Notable features include the highly structured scene lacking figures, depiction of an industrial setting, and sharp linearity created by geometric figures with no hint of abstraction. Demuth's works of this nature have been perceived as ironic and pessimistic in light of their subject matter.
In 1927, Demuth started a series of seven panel paintings depicting factory buildings in his hometown. He finished the last of the seven, After All in 1933 and passed away two years later. Six of those paintings are highlighted in Chimneys and Towers: Charles Demuth’s Late Paintings of Lancaster, a 2007 Amon Carter Museum retrospective of his work, displayed in 2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
According to the exhibit notes from the Amon Carter show, Demuth's will left many of his paintings to Georgia O'Keeffe. Her strategic decisions regarding which museums received these works cemented his reputation as a major painter of the Precisionist school.

Later years and death

Charles used the Lafayette Baths as his favorite haunt. His 1918 homoerotic self-portrait set in a Turkish bathhouse was likely set there. Demuth spent most of his life in frail health. By 1920, the effects of diabetes had begun to severely drain Demuth of artistic energy. He died at his residence in Lancaster at the age 51 of complications from diabetes. He is buried at the Lancaster Cemetery.
During the early 20th-century, Demuth resided within an 18th-century building, now restored to early 20th-century appearance by the Demuth Foundation. He created many works within a small studio located on the second floor of this building, which can be found at 120 East King Street, a popular area of Lancaster. One of the oldest homes in the area, it originally served as an 18th-century tavern, eventually repurposed as Demuth's home and studio.

Charles Demuth: Self-Portrait, 1907, oil on canvas, 26 1/16 x 18 inches, The Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA.
Charles Demuth -
 Charles Demuth - Portrait: Woman with Glasses, 1908. Exhibited in the Charles Demuth house museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. There were no prohibitions on photography in the museum, and the original artwork is old enough to be in the public domain. I took this photograph.
Aviariste, watercolor by Charles Demuth, 1912, Demuth Museum, Lancaster, PA
 Beach at Étretat circa 1913
Charles Demuth -
Twelve Nude Boys at the Beach by Charles Demuth
 circa 1914
Charles Demuth - At Marshall's, 1915. Exhibited in the Charles Demuth house museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. Museum caption states that the image portrays Marcel Duchamp, Edward Fisk, and Marsden Hartley. There were no prohibitions on photography in the museum, and the original artwork is old enough to be in the public domain. I took this photograph. 
Turkish bath 1915
 Charles Demuth - Man and Woman on the Beach, Provincetown, 1916. Exhibited in the Charles Demuth house museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. There were no prohibitions on photography in the museum, and the original artwork is old enough to be in the public domain. I took this photograph.

Demuth Charles The Jazz Singer 1916

Demuth, Charles (1883-1935) - 1916 - Turkish bath 
 Charles Demuth - Acrobats, c. 1916. Exhibited in the Charles Demuth house museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. There were no prohibitions on photography in the museum, and the original artwork is old enough to be in the public domain. I took this photograph.
 Charles Demuth - Own work
 Charles Demuth - The Circus (1917)
 Charles Demuth - Scanned by uploader from Columbus Museum of Art (1988), The American Collections, p. 105
Demuth, Charles (1883-1935) - 1917 - Three sailors 
 Charles Demuth - Monument, Bermuda 1917- Google Art Project
 Charles Demuth - mQEO9_iuNWmW4g at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level

 Demuth Charles Trees and Barns Bermuda 1917
Three Male Bathers
circa 1917

Charles Demuth: Rooftops and Trees, 1918, watercolour and graphite
Charles Demuth - Sarah Greenough et al: Modern art and America – Alfred Stieglitz and his New York galleries. National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C. 2001
Turkish Bath with Self Portrait 1918 
Demuth, Charles (1883-1935) - 1918 ca. - Dancing sailors

 Sail: In Two Movements by Charles Demuth
Charles Demuth -
 Business à l'Art Institute of Chicago.1921
 Painted in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; based on the rear of a building viewed from Demuth's home there. 1921
Charles Demuth - Scanned by uploader from Columbus Museum of Art (1988), The American Collections, p. 107
 Charles Demuth - Bienvenue dans notre ville 1 January 1921
Charles Demuth - Livre Un regard transatlantique : la collection d'art américain de Daniel J. Terra, Paris : Éditions Adam Biro, 2002. 

Spring à l'Art Institute of Chicago. 1921

 Rue du singe qui pêche à la Terra Fondation for American Art de Chicago.

 Demuth Charles Aucassiu and Nicolette 1921
 Brooklyn Museum - Roofs and Steeple - Charles Demuth - overall circa 1921
Charles Demuth - Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2005
Based on sketches Demuth made of the deck and funnels of the steamer "Paris" while on a trip back to the U.S. from Europe.
Charles Demuth 1921/22
 My Egypt, Oil on composition board 35 3/4 x 30 in. (90,8 x 76,2 cm) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1927
Charles Demuth -
English: A distinguished air

English: Charles Demuth (1883-1935), A distinguished air, Watercolour (1930). A homosexual couple, composed by a sailor and a distinguished gentleman, gives a bigger thrill to the visitors of the "daring" art exhibition than they dared to hope...
Italiano: Charles Demuth (1883-1935), A distinguished air ("Un'aria distinta"), acquarello del 1930. Una coppia omosessuale, composta da un marinaio e da un gentiluomo distinto, crea fra i visitatori della mostra d'arte "audace" uno scandalo ben maggiore di quanto avessero osato aspettarsi...
 Demuth, Charles (1883-1935) - 1930 ca. - Four male figures - Acquarello
Charles Demuth (1883-1935), Two sailors urinating. Watercolour (ca. 1930).
Three sailors urinating
 circa 1930
 Chimney and Water Tower 1931
Charles Demuth - Self-photographed, User:FA2010, October 2009

 ...And the Home of the Brave à l'Art Institute of Chicago. 1931
 Charles Demuth - Incense of a New Church
 Charles Demuth - Love Love Love, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
 Charles Demuth -

Landscape by Charles Demuth, watercolor, 9 ½ x 13 ¼ in., The Demuth Museum Collection

Charles Demuth (1883-1935), The Boat Ride from Sorrento
Portrait of American artist Charles Demuth, on page 11 of the December 1922 Shadowland.
Alfred Stieglitz - Shadowland (Sep. 1922 - Feb. 1923) at the Internet Archive


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