Rooftops

about 1915–16
Morton Schamberg (American, 1881–1918)


Dimensions

Sheet: 17.9 x 14 cm (7 1/16 x 5 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

2002.887

Medium or Technique

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Not On View

Collections

Americas, Photography

Classifications

Photographs

Morton Schamberg first studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia, where he was a friend and studio-mate of Charles Sheeler. Both young men took up photography about 1910 as a way to earn a living, firmly believing that it would not distract them from their aspirations as modernist painters. They soon discovered, however, that photography was an ideal tool for rendering the geometry in their everyday surroundings, and Schamberg, in particular, began making a radical series of Cubist-inspired architectural views, including this one. Schamberg’s steep camera angle, looking down onto rooftops and back alleys, causes these urban spaces to dramatically telescope from three dimensions into two and to break down into a seemingly abstract cascade of interlocking forms.

Provenance

From the artist, at the time of his death in 1918, to his friend, Charles Sheeler; from Musya Sheeler, at the time of her husband's death in 1965, purchased by William H. and Saundra B. Lane; gift to the MFA from Saundra B. Lane, December 27, 2002

Credit Line

Gift of Saundra B. Lane in honor of Karen E. Haas