A way of seeing: Reflections on a work of art

A few weeks ago, oppressed by some worrying news, I stopped into our college art museum. On the floor devoted to American and modern European paintings, I paused to admire Charles Sheeler’s Rolling Power, a close-up of train wheels, pistons and steam commissioned by Fortune magazine to honor the dynamism of the industrial age. Then I stepped around the corner, and Sheeler’s steely monochrome gave way to an effulgence of golds, greens and blues so brilliant it bleached out the engines of modernism and lit up the floor.

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