The Modern World

Charles Demuth and Joseph Stella both strove to depict the inventions of modern life in the early twentieth century.  Both artists were excited about the stunning achievements in architecture and industry, and were particularly interested in the ways that new factories, bridges, and skyscrapers were changing the American landscape.

Have students look closely at The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme and My Egypt. What are some similarities between the two works? What are some differences? Why do they think Stella and Demuth chose those structures to represent the modern age? What types of structures do your students think represent the contemporary world?

Joseph Stella (1877–1946), <em>The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme</em>, 1939. Oil on canvas. 70 1/4 × 42 3/16 in. (178.4 × 107.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase 42.15 © artist or artist’s estate

Painting of white grain elevator

Charles Demuth, My Egypt, 1927. Oil, fabricated chalk, and graphite pencil on composition board, 35 15/16 × 30in. (91.3 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.172