Charles Sheeler (American, 1883 - 1965)
1916. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 31 3/4". 1931.100
More than twenty years after Charles Sheeler titled this painting Landscape, he changed the title to Lhasa. The occasion was a retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1939. Sheeler painted Lhasa from John Claude White’s photograph of a Tibetan fortress, Khampa Dzong, in northern India. However, Sheeler remembered it (incorrectly) as the Potala Palace in Lhasa, a winter monastery of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Sheeler approached abstraction by seeking the simple, underlying geometric structure of his subjects. The artist has treated the mountaintop shrine in the Cubist manner by creating a configuration of interlocking shapes with flat, many-sided forms juxtaposed against the curved, modeled slopes of the mountain.