Formal Research of Artwork – Power Plant #2

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The desire of work of art for analysis is Power Plant #2 which is one of the portray at Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma. Power Plant #2 is an oil on canvas painting done in 1937 by means of a Russian-born American William S. Schwartz (1896 – 1977). The painting according to the caption at the museum shows that the artist was impressed by the “power” of the younger nation and its largest city. In William’s caption to the image, he states “The force and clamor of the city echoed in my ears…what strength and its thunder! On each side, what pace, what power!” This paper analyzes five keys aspects of the painting, that is its composition, color, objects, techniques and finally its size and shape.


Like many other William Schwartz’s paintings, Power Plant #2 too bears a narrative. The subject of the narrative of the painting is what the artist described as his impression with the power of a young nation and its largest city. William Schwartz attempts to show the power through a power plant at the hilltop and water rushing down from the lush green landscape on the hill through the power plant and to the buildings marked by series of stairs. He captures all the aspects of hydroelectric energy, the dark thunderclouds, the powerful waterfall, a power plant complete with the high-power pylons common with hydroelectric power plants.

Power Plant #2 is organized in pattern similar to a grid style. The objects in the painting are all linked to the center of the object at the center. The painting shows a view looking towards what seem to be a hydroelectric powerplant on a hill cliff largely blocked in by a series of steps on the structures that are carved into the landscape.

It features a river flowing down from the power plant through the right side of the painting. The background features a lush green landscape with gray clouds hanging overhead. A look at the painting engages one’s eyes since all the key objects in the painting are linked and bear a particular color that contrasts. Looking at the image, one’s eyes moves from the powerplant as the main focus to the building and series of stairs and the composition around the power plant.

The objects in the painting are organized around the power plant. All the objects are linked to the power plant. The series of stairs connect to the power plant, the dark clouds on the over the top of the pant are linked to the powerplant through the light parts of the cloud, probably, a thunder light in the clouds. Also, the lush green landscape on the hilltop come from the edges of the painting to the main structure of the power plant. Finally, and perhaps the most significant is the waterfall that comes from the powerplant to dominate the right side of the image. Looking at the image, the connection between all the objects and the powerplant draws one’s eyes to the center of the image which has the powerplant. This serves as an emphasis to William main inspiration in doing the painting, that is, to show hydroelectric energy that had come to be adopted in his hometown.


Color is a key element of paintings and it affects the mood of a piece or work of art depending on how it is use in the organization and composition of a painting. The key colors in the painting are green, brown, blue, white and gray. All the five colors have an almost equal proportion on the painting except for color white. From the painting’s caption, William Schwartz’s, it’s clear that his main focus was the hydroelectric energy that had come to his town. Therefore, to emphasize this in the painting, he uses white color for the power plant structure. Considering that the power plant is almost at the center of the image, its white color attracts one’s eye to it. One thing that stands out in the image with respect to color is the dark section of around the center of the painting. The dark section covers from the left side of the power plat, just adjacent to the pylons at the plan. it then extends to cover below the power plant in a brown patch then down over the river near the steps of the brown building.


Objects are what are in piece of work of art make up a painting and they determine whether a painting is naturalistic or abstract and to what degree. Power Plant #2 painting features many objects, these include, a powerplant on a hill cliff, a waterfall, buildings, lush green landscape on the background and the gray clouds overhead. With the many objects in the painting, it looks crowded with the buildings, the green lush landscape and the river covering the entire space for this piece that may be considered a small piece of art. The hydroelectric power plant which is the focus of the image acts as the interface between the natural lush green landscape and the ‘builtscape’ which has the structures or buildings with series of stairs.

Power Plant #2is naturalistic piece of art since William was trying to give his impression of the “power” of a nation and its largest city. The power plant is on the cliff of the hill with the river flowing fast down into a series of steps on structures which do not seem to be buildings. this is typical of how hydroelectric power plants are often situated. The painting also features a waterfall rushing powerfully beneath it. Through the fast rushing water, William captures the pace that he talks of regarding the small town. The dark cloud over the lush green landscape features some light areas that converge at the top of the power plant

Power Plant #2, 1937 is largely a naturalist rather than abstract piece of art. William was showing his impression with the young nation and its largest city. Through the painting, in a more literal sense, he captures the energy of his adopted homeland. The painting resonates with the what actually may have existed on ground at that time of doing the painting. It features both the natural environment, evident through the lush green landscapes, the hill, the clouds. Also, it features the infrastructural developments, that is evident through the buildings with series of steps, the power plant and its accompanying power pylons.


The technique a painter uses for a given painting determines how the material is manipulated and even the brush stokes to use in the painting since it contributes to reading of the painting. Power Plant #2 is a painting of oil on canvas. Canvas is the traditional surface for oil paintings. William’s choice of oil and canvas for this work proved to be effective since the painting is attractive and represents his ideas even though the painting was done many years ago, in 1937. In coming up with the painting, the artist use oil paint to make the brush strokes on the canvas. The oil gives fine brush strokes around the edges of the objects in the painting. The

The artist used light brush strokes of oil on the canvas which proves to be effective in portraying the artists impression. The artist contributes to the reading of the work through his cubist-style grid which brings out an attractive painting considering that he also chose oil on canvas technique for this particular work of art. The use of oil on canvas for this kind of painting with many objects confirms William Schwartz’s prowess when it comes to such kind of painting since the technique requires a lot of diligence for one to achieve such an impressive piece of art work.

Size and shape

The size and shape of a piece of work of art, especially for paintings contribute a lot to how one reads the painting. The exact dimensions of Power Plant #2 painting are not indicated however, it looks small with almost equal horizontal and vertical extents. The painting has a square shape. The size and shape contributes to the read of the painting composition. The relatively small size and shape of the painting emphasizes the painter’s idea to give the impression of the power of a small city. The square shape of the painting gives an equal representation of the object in the painting.

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