Charles Demuth

Dafato Team | Mar 4, 2023

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Charles Demuth (Nov. 8, 1883 - Oct. 23, 1935) was an American watercolorist who later switched to oil painting. He developed a style of painting that later became known as Precisionism.

Demuth lived his entire life in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The house he shared with his mother is now a museum. He graduated from Franklin & Marshall College and went on to study at Drexel University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While studying at PAFA, he met writer William Carlos Williams in his dorm. The two became good friends and kept in close contact for the rest of their lives.

Later, Demuth studied in Paris at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian, where he belonged to the avant garde. The Parisian art community accepted Demuth's homosexuality.

In Paris, he met the painter Marsden Hartley by walking up to a table of American artists and asking to join them. Thanks to his sense of ambiguous humor, he was invited to join their group. Through Hartley, he met the gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz and became a member of the Stieglitz Group. In 1926 he had a one-man exhibition at the Anderson Gallery and at the Intimate Gallery, an exhibition space in New York run by his friend Alfred Stieglitz.

Zijn bekendste schilderij, I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, is geïnspireerd op een gedicht van zijn vriend William Carlos Williams, genaamd The Great Figure. Roberta Smith omschreef het werk in de New York Times als Demuths beroemde visionaire weergave van Williams, I Saw the Figure Five in Gold, een schilderij waarvan de titel en het medaillonachtige arrangement van schuine vormen beide waren geïnspireerd op een vers dat de dichter schreef nadat hij op een regenachtige straat in Manhattan een brandweerauto voorbij zag rijden terwijl hij wachtte op Marsden Hartley, wiens studio hij bezocht, om zijn deur te beantwoorden."

This is one of nine portraits Demuth created to honor his creative friends. The others include artists Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, Charles Duncan, Marsden Hartley and John Marin, writers Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill, and Wallace Stevens.

In 1927, Demuth began a series of seven panels showing factory buildings in his hometown. He completed the last of the seven, After All, in 1933. He died two years later of diabetes. Six of the paintings were highlighted in Chimneys and Towers: Charles Demuth's Late Paintings of Lancaster, a retrospective exhibition of his work (2007-2008).

According to the catalog, Demuth left many of his works in his will to Georgia O'Keeffe. Her strategic decisions regarding which museums could receive his work established his reputation as a great painter of the Precisionist school.

Demuth suffered an injury when he was four years old, either polio or tuberculosis to the hip, which caused him to limp and require a cane. Later, he also developed diabetes. He was one of the first in America to receive insulin. He spent most of his life in poor health, and he died at age 51 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from complications of diabetes.

Demuth was a frequent visitor to the Lafayette Baths, a gay sauna. For his homoerotic self-portrait in a Turkish bathhouse, he probably used this building as a backdrop.

Demuth was distantly related to Christopher DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

Ken Johnson wrote in the New York Times; "Search the history of American art, and you will find few watercolors more beautiful than those of Charles Demuth. Combining precise botanical observations and cubism, his watercolors of flowers, fruits and vegetables have a magical vibrancy and a startling sensuality."


  1. Charles Demuth
  2. Charles Demuth
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  4. ^ Robinson, Ryan (July 30, 2001). "Demote group honors couple for restoration of artist's fame, home: Gerald and Margaret Lestz were presented with a bronze plaque for their work with the Demuth Foundation Sunday". No. B 1–2. Lancaster PA New Era.
  5. History of 291
  6. Miller, Neil, Out of the Past, Gay and Lesbian history from 1869 to the present. Vintage (1995), 143. ISBN 0-09-957691-0.
  7. «The Anderson Galleries and the Intimate Gallery» (en inglés). Galería Nacional de Arte (Washington). Archivado desde el original el 6 de mayo de 2009. Consultado el 4 de agosto de 2009.
  8. a b c d e f Charles Demuth, Demuth Foundation [dostęp 2022-12-05]  (ang.).

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