Charles Sheeler’s painting Windows from C. 1952 is considered one of his most iconic artwork. Sheeler was American painter and photographer known for his precisionist style of painting and photographs that expressed industrial America, which he used in his works as a subject matter. In this painting, Sheeler depicted an urban landscape with storefronts seen through four large windows.
The focus is on the windows alone; aside from this we have a sparse utilitarian image that centers around the art deco designs of the windows. This painting emphasizes the machine-made elements of fabricated steel and glass that make up these buildings. The bold geometric shapes of the architecture appear angular and static, yet at other times they can feel like sharp kinetic forms that transform as you take in the details of the picture.
While Windows may seem to capture a momentary scene in condensed time, it also makes reference to an older America as well — one that harkens back to early memories with its muted color palette combined with golden light streaming through the windows onto concrete pavements below. Despite how bleak or vacant this scene may feel, one cannot deny its beauty captured by Sheeler’s skillful eye for form and design. With this artwork, Sheeler succeeds at displaying the simple elegance found in modern American architecture like no other artist could have done.