December 11, 2023Charles Demuth: The Timeless Legacy of a Lancaster Artist
In downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Demuth Museum represents the legacy of Charles Demuth, a Lancaster artist that is forever remembered. If you would like to learn more about Demuth, head over to 120 E King Street to learn more about his artwork and background!
Exploring the First Floor
When you walk in, the first room of the Demuth Museum contains exhibits of historical artists that rotate every 2-3 months. These pieces give a glimpse into the evolution of art throughout the ages, and provide information about where to see more from the selected artists.
The second room showcases Demuth’s artwork, which contains a rotating display of 5-6 pieces from his collection at any given time. According to Sarah Keim, communications and programming coordinator at the Demuth Foundation, Charles Demuth was a part of the Precisionism movement, bringing an “American-Industrialist perspective to Cubism” and focused on architectural subjects.
A fun fact about Demuth that many may not know is that he was close friends with Georgia O’Keeffe, who gifted him with her painting titled “Alligator Pearls.”
Escape to the Garden
Outside in the back of the building lies the garden, which also inspired a fair share of Demuth’s artwork, particularly his watercolor paintings. Augusta Demuth, Charles’s mother, looked after the garden with great care. Eventually, the garden was paved over and became a parking lot, although much of it has been restored by the Demuth Foundation. With help from the community, the Demuth Foundation has been able to preserve some original plants such as Augusta’s beloved rose bush.
Painted in 1930
Painted in 1928
Images via the Demuth Foundation Collection
Venturing the Second Floor
On the second floor is where you can find more famous works and pictures relating to Charles Demuth, including a painting that he did of his mother, Augusta. You will also find Charles Demuth’s art supplies, easel, and dancing shoes! Despite developing a hip injury at four years old that affected his development, Demuth still enjoyed dancing and playing sports.
Past the first room of the upstairs and what was once a bathroom, is where you can find another of Ferdinand Demuth’s photography, capturing many beautiful landscapes of Lancaster. Ferdinand, Charles’s father, also ran the Demuth Tobacco Shop, which remained in the Demuth name until the 1980s! Charles Demuth had no interest in helping with the shop, which was perfectly fine with his family, as they supported his artistic journey since his early interest in art as a child.
The Allure of Demuth
As a child, Demuth’s parents sent him to Martha Bowman for private art lessons on still life and landscape painting, and he later formed friendships with other historical artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Marsden Hartley.
Aside from Demuth’s artistic life, his personal life remains an intriguing mystery, with many believing he was part of the LGBTQ community. His unique ties and certain language in letters suggest this about his identity, which adds to the allure that is Charles Demuth.
Demuth Lives On
In 1920, at 37, Demuth faced diabetes, a battle he fought until his death at 51. Today, his artwork lives on through the Demuth Foundation and Museum, located at 120 E. King Street, Lancaster, PA. Discover the complexity of Charles Demuth, a Lancaster artist who goes down in history as one of the best artists of his time.
*This article is part of a series dedicated to equally and equitably promoting historical sites within the City of Lancaster.*