Yesterday while searching for lion embroidered Qing rank badges at the Metropolitan Museum, I saw many of them photographed in black & white, which made me wonder if any had been photographed by Charles Sheeler.
It appears not, but Sheeler’s Met photos are always interesting to me. While I ‘ve never imagined buying a Sheeler, I have fantasized about running across a stray print of an African mask or an Egyptian torso in some photodealer’s bin some day. [That has not happened.]
What I did not expect, though, was jamming so hard on this 1943 detail of Antwerp painter Joos van Cleve’s c.1525 Annunciation. Sheeler shows just a dynamic section of the archangel Gabriel’s flowing drapery, embroidered cope, and swirling sash–and just a hint of ankle.
Sheeler certainly made stylized, even dramatically composed images for his day job [he worked as a photographer at the Met in 1942-43.] He even took detail shots of other artworks, particularly the museum’s extraordinary Assyrian wall sculptures. [I have an old photobook of them somewhere, published by the museum in 1946.] But this sort of tightly cropped image with such elaborate internal composition feels like he was shooting for himself.
Another thing that comes to mind is Sheeler’s work as a fashion and socialite photographer for Condé Nast between 1926 and 1931. [Though he was quoted in the 2017 show of that work as hating the gig, comparing it to going to jail every day.]
Only a couple of Sheeler’s Assyrian prints are in their collection database, so those might be catalogued as something else. But this was one of a group of Sheeler photos printed and acquired as works in 1982.
The Annunciation by Joos van Cleve, Charles Sheeler, 1943, printed 1982 [metmuseum.org]
Annunciation, Joos van Cleve, c. 1525 [metmuseum.org]
Previously, related: LLOLZ On Gerhard Richter’s Annunciation After (A Postcard Of) Titian; Gerhard Richter Facsimile Objects