I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold” is an art piece painted by Charles Demuth, an American Artist born in Lancaster,Pennsylvania from 1883-1935. This specific piece was painted in 1928 and is made of oil, graphite, ink, and uses gold leaf paint on paperboard. This art piece is encompassed of varying hues of red, yellow, orange and gray paint.
The most important aspect of this piece is the number 5. The point of this is to pay homage to a poem by William Carlos Williams entitled ” The Great Figure”. In Williams poem, he writes about seeing a red fire engine with the number 5 painted on it racing through the city. The art piece paid respect to Williams and was meant to exactly the poem. Throughout the piece, you can see how the reds, yellows, and oranges used in the middle are meant to represent the fire truck and the number five. While the grays, lamppost, and written words to the right are meant to indicate the street and the buildings that the fire engine is passing through.
The title of the piece is “I saw the figure 5 in gold” is an indication of the number five on the fire engine that the poet describes in his poem. Also, the indication of the five being in gold brings attention to it. The color gold is something people notice right away and it draws attention too, which is why Charles made that indication purposely.
The objective of this piece is to pay homage to William Carlos’s poem, “The Great Figure”. Charles full exhibition of art also includes seven other pieces. All of the pieces he’s created are visual representations of famous American Artists,Writers, and Performers of that time. He is showing how visually stimulating each piece of work that his friends make are and in turn makes the art pieces out of them similar to “I saw the figure 5 in gold”. Which is an exact line from Williams poem.
During this time in history, America has more than rose to being the powerhouse of the world along with a few European and Asian Nations that were all the same fast on America’s heel. America is going through an aggressive industrialization and is creating new types of technology from raw materials in Latin America and African Nations. During the early 1900s, a few key factors that would eventually lead to World Wars and tension also begin to take place. The start and end of World War I(1914-1918). The treaty of Versailles and the 19th Amendment .(1919) Finally the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party in 1930. Many more events amongst countries would also take place during the time of this art piece.
The visual establishes a painting of the rich figurative language used in a poem and provides the viewer with a way to also interpret a poem. This visual is important because now we are beginning to see that along with the modernization of American technology. The artwork has begun to take a different direction. Where once all art was landscapes or painting of people or things. Art has now become made of ones complete imagination. Where once people only painted things they saw, art has now become something to create using things as simple as words. Artists have created artwork that is purely for their chance to showcase the work that they truly loved painting.