Morton Schamberg

(1881-1918)

Morton Schamberg studied at the University of Pennsylvania in the architecture program before attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied with W.M. Chase from 1903-1906. He was befriended and favored by Chase until he began to explore more formal structure and composition at which point Chase cut all communication with Schamberg. After completing his education, Schamberg traveled through Europe with his longtime friend and fellow artist Charles Sheeler. The two returned to settle in Philadelphia in 1910 and shared a studio in the city and a farmhouse in Doylestown. They collaborated on commercial photography to increase their income. Schamberg began to explore Fauvism and Synchronism, painting a series of abstract landscapes. By 1916 though, he realized a concern for simplifying form and begun a series of machine objects. Later that year Schamberg met Picabia and Duchamp and became a part of the Arensberg Group. In 1917 he created the first American Dada "ready-made", an assemblage of plumbing pipes in a mitre box called "God". He worked from catalog illustrations, just as Picabia, creating disembodied machine forms. He thought of machines as an artistic inspiration yet a dehumanizing force. Unfortunately, Schamberg was not able to fully realize his Modernistic talents; he died from a flu epidemic in 1918. He was buried on his 37th birthday.