Golden Gate
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Charles Sheeler seemed to be going for the darker side of the beautiful bridge that crosses the Bay.

When talking technology, fear and awe always go hand in hand, and apparently this isn’t just a robot/clone invasion thing. Since the boom of American industry, new innovations have struck fear in the hearts of even their biggest supporters. Sheeler’s painting of the Golden Gate Bridge isn’t the pretty view that you can catch from the Presidio or during the title sequence of Full House. It’s a much more dizzying and intimidating perspective that even does away with the trademark red to lend it a more sinister aura.

As a man of the modern era, Sheeler witnessed the rise of American industry, and he was one of its most ardent admirers. Just like Diego Rivera, Sheeler found inspiration in the mechanization of the Detroit car industry. It’s no wonder that bridges, some of the greatest modern marvels, also captured his attention.

It was only natural for an artist-turned-techie to utilize technology to create art. Sheeler took up photography early in his career and relied on the medium to achieve new heights in the otherwise traditional form of painting. His photographs of buildings and bridges are reminiscent of those of Berenice Abbott, who also looked to the modern, urban landscape as a source of inspiration.

Photography allowed artists to look in new and unexpected ways and even distort reality. Sheeler frequently cropped photographs to broach abstraction with images taken from his everyday experiences. Naturally taken with the bridge’s beauty, the east coast artist achieved this image by layering photographs that he took of the gargantuan bridge and then painting from his own creation.

It turns out that Charles Sheeler is definitely not the only person who thinks that the Golden Gate Bridge is mildly terrifying. The most common fear among San Francisco locals is gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges. This fear most likely lies in the fact that, at one time, the Golden Gate Bridge was the foremost location for suicides, with someone jumping on an average of every two weeks. Apparently, in the minds of San Franciscans, a Golden Gate Bridge suicide is a grand, symbolic gesture, as no one would be caught dead jumping from the nearby, uggo Bay Bridge.

Thankfully, these depressing statistics are decreasing; however, the dip is a result of the city stationing more police officers at the bridge, rather than any increase in mental health services. Officials plan to stave off more suicides in the coming years by adding a metal, mesh net to catch jumpers high above their potential, watery graves.



  1. Arnason, H.H., and Elizabeth C. Mansfield. History of Modern Art. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2013.
  2. Associated Press. “Fewer suicides occurring at Golden Gate Bridge.” Los Angeles Times. January 22, 2018. Accessed October 30, 2018.
  3. Friend, Tad. “Jumpers.” The New Yorker. October 13, 2003. Accessed October 30, 2018.
  4. Murphy, Jessica. “Charles Sheeler (1883–1965).” Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. November 2009. Accessed October 30, 2018.
  5. National Gallery of Art. “Charles Sheeler, Across Media.” Slideshows. Accessed October 30, 2018.
  6. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Charles Sheeler, Golden Gate.” Collection. Accessed October 30, 2018.