“Deem” as friends and other artists called him, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1883. A versatile artist, Charles Demuth was acclaimed for his cubist-derived paintings of American cityscapes as well as his sensuous, richly colored watercolors of still lifes and figure groups. Demuth studied at the Drexel Institute of Art and later at the Pennsylvania Institute of Art and Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. From 1907 to 1908 Demuth was in Paris, viewing many of the emerging avant-garde styles; during his second trip there from 1912 to 1914, he took courses at the Académie Julian, Académie Moderne, and Académie Colarossi. During his last year in Paris, Demuth met fellow American artist Marsden Hartley, who became a close friend and mentor.
After his return to the United States, Demuth divided his time between Lancaster and New York and spent many summers in Provincetown, Mass. In New York he became closely associated with Alfred Stieglitz's circle of American modernists. Charles Daniel became his dealer and gave him his first one-person show in 1914. In 1917 Demuth and Hartley spent time in Bermuda with the French cubist painter Albert Gleizes. Demuth’s precisionist style emerged soon thereafter in watercolor, tempera, and oil depictions of his architectural and industrial surroundings.
Duncan Phillips described Demuth as “A virtuoso with water color of the most delicious clarity and the subtlest nuance of pearly tones
Demuth, long ago, turned to Cubism. Its use of planes, describing boundaries and direction of forms in space, gave him his chance to make out of geometry and its meaning for art something personal, by combining its austerity of ruled lines, its interpenetrating planes and angles, with his own special gift for flowing fascinating color. He knows also the value of suggestion and isolates fragments which suggest how the rest of the big world could be seen after the same fashion.”