Morton Livingston Schamberg

Morton Livingston Schamberg

American, 1881–1918
Painting VI
1916, oil on canvas, 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.)

Beginning in 1915 Schamberg turned to mechanical subjects, often abstracting a fragment of a machine and eliminating its background so that its function became uncertain. Painting VI was long thought to represent a camera—the white disk at upper left is reminiscent of a flash pan from the era. Instead, it depicts part of a hosiery-manufacturing apparatus owned by the artist’s brother-in-law, the upper left circle operating as a spool for the ribbon of fabric that threads through the machine. Schamberg’s burgeoning role in the New York Dada movement was cut short in 1918 when he succumbed to the flu pandemic.