History And Context
Extended sojourns in Paris in 1907-08 and 1912-14 familiarized Charles Demuth with the latest avant-garde styles, but it was the artist’s 1917 trip to Bermuda, with friend and fellow artist Marsden Hartley, that definitively changed the direction of his painting. At this point in his career, Demuth had been painting regularly in watercolors with great reference to several French masters, including Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse. During his trip, Demuth spent sustained time with the French Cubist painter Albert Gleizes, and soon thereafter emerged the artist’s precisionist style.
Monument, Bermuda, one of Demuth’s most beautiful watercolors from that seminal trip, reveals his newly adopted Cubist style. His use of shallow space, multi-faceted forms, and hard edges moves in the direction of abstraction without straying completely away from a naturalistic representation. He masterfully juxtaposed the hard lines of the architectural forms with the soft washes of water paints, creating a harmonious balance between color and form.
Demuth’s Cubist-derived paintings of American cityscapes and architecture earned him much acclaim with critics and collectors.