The Artist Looks at Nature presents an imagined scene of rolling greenery, massive stone walls, stairs, and pathways. Contrary to its title, the artist, Charles Sheeler, depicted himself seated at an easel, ignoring the brightly lit landscape in front of him. Rather, the figure works intently on a monochromatic drawing of an antiquated stove, which is based on one of Sheeler’s own photographs from 1917. The self-portrait also relies upon an earlier photograph by the artist.
Here, Sheeler engaged in reconstructing his own artistic past—looking back at his work across media and reconfiguring it into something new and surreal in the present. Although the painting’s intent remains unknown, it is clear that Sheeler, as artist, catalyzed and shaped this visual journey.
“Charles Sheeler: The Artist Looks at Nature, 1943,” Art News 43, 13 (Oct. 15–31, 1944), 10, ill.
Frederick A. Sweet, “Three American Paintings,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 39, 1 (Jan. 1945), 5–7, ill.
Frederick S. Wight, “Charles Sheeler,” in Charles Sheeler: A Retrospective Exhibition (Los Angeles: University of California Art Galleries, 1954), 42, ill. p. 31.
Martin L. Friedman, The Precisionist View in American Art: Ault, Blume, Crawford, Davis, Demuth, Dickinson, Driggs, Guglielmi, Hirsch, Lewandowski, Lozowick, O’Keeffe, Schamberg, Sheeler, Spencer, Stella (Walker Art Center, 1960), n. 17, 25.
Lillian Dochterman, The Stylistic Development of the Work of Charles Sheeler (Ph.D. diss., State University of Iowa, 1963), 82–3, 389, cat. 43.221, ill. p. 389.
Martin Friedman, “The Art of Charles Sheeler: Americana in a Vacuum,” in Charles Sheeler (Published for the National Collection of Fine Art by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1968), 37, ill. p. 67.
Bartlett Hayes, “Reminiscence” in Charles Sheeler (Published for the National Collection of Fine Art by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1968), 71–3, ill. p. 67.
Martin Friedman, Charles Sheeler (Watson–Guptill Publications, 1975), 92, 131, ill. p. 121
Susan Fillin–Yeh, Charles Sheeler and the Machine Age (Ph.D. diss, City University of New York, 1981), 99–100, 110–11.
James Maroney, The Elite and Popular Appeal of the Art of Charles Sheeler (James Maroney, Inc., 1986), 14.
Susan Fillin–Yeh, “Charles Sheeler’s American interiors,” Antiques 131 (April 1987), 828–37, ill. pl. I.
Susan Fillin–Yeh, Charles Sheeler: American Interiors (Yale University Art Gallery, 1987), 19, 21, 34, ill. p. 35.
Carol Troyen and Erica E. Hirshler, Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, exh. cat. (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1987), 33, 183–4, ill. p. 185.
Karen Lucic, Charles Sheeler and the Cult of the Machine (Reaktion Books, 1991), 137–39, fig. 66.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth–Century Painting and Sculpture, selected by James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein (Art Institute of Chicago, 1996), 90, ill.
Karen Lucic, Charles Sheeler in Doylestown: American Modernism and the Pennsylvania Tradition (Allentown Art Museum, 1997), 97–8, 110–11, ill. p. 110.
Karen E. Haas, “‘Opening the Other Eye’: Charles Sheeler and the Uses of Photography, in The Photography of Charles Sheeler: American Modernist (Bulfinch Press, 2002), 133–34, ill. p. 133.
Charles Brock, Charles Sheeler: Across Media, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Art in association with University of California Press, 2006), 108–117, ill. p. 121.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 148.
Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Highlights of the Collection, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 131.
Andrew L. Schoelkopf, et. al., The Immaculates: Paintings, Photographs, and Prints, exh. cat. (New York: Menconi and Schoelkopf, 2020), 16–17, fig. 12 (ill.).
Lincoln, Neb., Nebraska Art Association, University Art Galleries, University of Nebraska, Fifth–Fourth Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Mar. 5–Apr. 2, 1944, cat. 133.
Pittsburgh, Pa., Carnegie Institute of Art, Painting in the United States, 1944, Oct. 12–Dec. 10, 1944, cat. 4.
Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings, Jan. 1–Feb. 4, 1945, cat. 51.
New York, The Downtown Gallery, Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Charles Sheeler, Mar. 5–23, 1946, cat. 2.
Andover, Mass., Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Oct. 10–Nov. 25, 1946, no cat.
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Pictures within Pictures, Nov. 9–Dec. 31, 1949, cat. 38, ill. pl. III, Andover, Massachusetts, Phillips Academy, Addison Gallery of American Art, Jan. 6–Feb. 12, 1950.
Houston, Tex., Contemporary Arts Museum, Sheeler Dove Exhibition, Jan. 7–23, 1951, cat. 41.
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Charles Sheeler, May 18–June 15, 1952, no cat.
Los Angeles, University of California, Art Galleries, Charles Sheeler: A Retrospective Exhibition, Oct. 11–Nov. 7, 1954, cat. 24, ill. p. 31; San Francisco, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum; Fort Worth Art Center; Utica, Munson–Williams–Proctor Institute; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; San Diego Fine Arts Gallery. [Oct. 11, 1954–June 15, 1955 was entirety of travel time to all museums.]
Lake Forest College, Illinois, Durand Art Institute, A Century of American Painting: Masterpieces Loaned by the Art Institute of Chicago, June 10–16, 1957, cat. 30.
Kansas City, Mo., William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Aspects of Representation in Contemporary Art, Feb. 8–Mar. 8, 1959, cat. 24.
Allentown, Pa., Allentown Art Museum, Charles Sheeler: Retrospective Exhibition, Nov. 17–Dec. 31, 1961, cat. 27.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Art in the Mirror, Nov. 22, 1966–Feb. 5, 1967; Mansfield, Ohio, Mansfield Fine Arts Guild, Mar. 10–Apr. 2, 1967; San Francisco State College, Apr. 24–May 14, 1967; Los Angeles, Municipal Art Gallery, June 27–July 23, 1967; Van Nuys, California, Los Angeles Valley College, Aug. 22–Oct. 15, 1967; Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Nov. 1–Dec. 3, 1967; Oswego, New York, State University College, Feb. 13–Mar. 3, 1968; no cat.
Washington, DC, The National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Charles Sheeler, Oct. 10–Nov. 24, 1968, cat. 98, ill. p. 67; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Jan. 10–Feb. 16, 1969; Whitney Museum of American Art, Mar. 11–Apr. 27, 1969 (Washington, DC only).
Bloomington, Indiana University Art Museum, The American Scene 1900–1970: an exhibition of twentieth century painting held in honor of the Sesquicentennial of Indiana University, Apr. 5–May 17, 1970, cat. 35, pl. 35.
Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Amerika: Traum und Depression, 1920 / 1940, Nov. 9–Dec. 28, 1980, cat. 312, ill. abb. 57, p. 121; Hamburg, Kunstverein, Jan. 11–Feb. 15, 1981.
New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, Charles Sheeler: American Interiors, Apr. 1–May 31, 1987, cat. 14, ill. p. 35.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Charles Sheeler: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Oct. 13, 1987–Jan. 3, 1988, cat. 66, ill. p. 185; Whitney Museum of American Art, Jan. 28–Apr. 17, 1988; Dallas Museum of Art, May 15–July 10, 1988.
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, George Grosz: Berlin–New York, Dec. 21, 1994–Apr. 17, 1995, cat. III.21, ill. p. 118; Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein–Westfalen, May 6–July 30, 1995; Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Sept. 7–Dec. 3, 1995.
Allentown, Pa., Allentown Art Museum, Charles Sheeler in Doylestown: American Modernism and the Pennsylvania Tradition, Apr. 6–June 22, 1997, cat. 51; Forth Worth, Tex., Amon Carter Museum, Aug. 23–Nov. 2, 1997, Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Dec. 19, 1997–Mar. 1, 1998.
Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art, Charles Sheeler: Across Media, May 7–Aug. 27, 2006, cat. 34, ill. p. 121; Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 7, 2006–Jan. 7, 2007, San Francisco, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, de Young Museum, Feb. 10–May 6, 2007.
The artist; sold through the Downtown Gallery to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1944.
Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.