Charles Sheeler (1883 – 1965) saw the modern equivalent of the imposing religious architecture of the past in the expansive, streamlined masses of factory buildings and refineries. Incantation (1946), whose very title sounds like a spiritual evocation, is a fragmentary view of a continuous-flow oil production plant. Here, Sheeler reduced the architectural forms to a more two-dimensional design in which shadows play as weighty a role as the metal tanks and pipes. The lack of a human presents suggest the degree to which these vast plants had come to be viewed as nearly autonomous forces.
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.