In 1938, Fortune magazine commissioned Charles Sheeler to produce a pictorial essay on the theme of power. Sheeler traveled to Nevada, New York, and Alabama, completing six paintings, including this one of Hoover Dam, located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada.
Sheeler first documented the dam photographically from numerous vantage points, selecting a provocatively cropped image on which to base this painting. He portrayed in extreme perspective a transmission tower soaring above the dam, its wires bisecting the blue, crystalline sky. Blazing light, combined with the artist’s nearly indecipherable brushstrokes, results in an astonishing clarity that imparts to the scene a sense of the supernatural and miraculous.