|Birth Date: November 8, 1883|
|Death Date: October 23, 1935
|Using cold colors and sharp outlines, Charles Demuth, was defined as a precisionist painter. Although his geometric compositions were strongly influenced by Cubism, he never lost the image’s sense of realism.
Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Demuth kept his mother’s home as his permanent residence. He was plagued by ill health throughout his life, a fact that seems to have influenced his choice of watercolor as a primary means of expression, quite simply because it was more portable. Demuth, however, did travel to Europe in the early 1900s where he pursued modern art. After returning to America in 1914, he was associated with Alfred Stieglitz, Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement. Demuth loved the bohemian lifestyle of New York and spent time with Duchamp in Harlem jazz clubs and Greenwich Village bars.
This bohemian lifestyle did not agree with his health and Demuth suffered from the effects of diabetes years before insulin came into being in 1923. He simply did not have the energy to paint and could not continue an unhealthy lifestyle. He returned to Lancaster and under the care of his mother, who did her best to restore his health. From then on, he created most of his work at home where he had a small second floor studio overlooking the garden. Interested in the natural objects around him, he enjoyed simplified forms and pure colors, often painting fruit and flowers. His paintings were wet and fluid, showing colors running into one another. Sometimes, he blotted areas for an unusual texture or worked in layers of washes. His mother’s garden was a great source of inspiration for his later works.
Aware of his talent, his unstable health and the reserve with which he held his emotions in check, Demuth said: “John Marin and I drew our inspiration from the same source, French Modernism. He brought his up in buckets and spilt much along the way. I dipped mine out with a teaspoon, but never spilled a drop”.