ArtLex Art Dictionary




PPrecisionism or precisionism - A style of early twentieth century painting in which depicted scenes -- many of industrial architecture -- or objects. Precisionists typically depicted mechanical and industrial subject matter, such as smokestacks, steel foundries, or grain elevators. These subjects were usually reduced or simplified to geometric forms and rendered in bright and clear light, by a combination of abstraction and realism. In a work such as River Rouge Plant, Sheeler's commercial photography proved a valuable source of imagery. Pre-eminent among artists painting in this style were Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935) and Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965).

Examples are:


see thumbnail to leftCharles Demuth (American, 1883-1935), Figure 5 in Gold, 1928, oil on composition board, 35 1/2 x 30 inches (90.2 x 76.2 cm). Although Demuth was influenced by Cubism and Futurism, his choice of urban and industrial subjects, his sense of scale and his directness of expression were American. The Figure 5 in Gold was dedicated to the artist's friend William Carlos Williams, the American poet whose "The Great Figure" inspired the painting's title and imagery. Demuth's painting, however, is not a representational illustration of the poem but rather an abstract impression of the No. 5 fire engine clanging through the lamp-lit streets of the darkened, rainy city.



see thumbnail to rightCharles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965), Zinnia and Nasturtium Leaves, 1915, gelatin silver print, Worcester Art Museum, MA. See still life.



see thumbnail to leftCharles Sheeler, Americana, 1931, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (121.9 x 91.4 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



Charles Sheeler, River Rouge Plant, 1932, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 1/8 inches (50.8 x 61.3 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Sheeler made this painting after photographs commissioned by the Ford Motor Company, including see thumbnail to leftCriss-Crossed Conveyors, River Rouge Plant, Ford Motor Company, 1927, depicted: Michigan, United States of America, gelatin silver print, 23.5 x 18.8 cm (9 1/4 x 7 3/8 inches), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See photography.



see thumbnail to rightCharles Sheeler, City Interior, 1936, aqueous adhesive and oil on composition board, Worcester Art Museum, MA.


Earle Horter (American, 1891-1940)



Elsie Driggs (American, 1898-1992)




see thumbnail to leftRalston Crawford (American, 1906-1978), Turbine Shafts, Coulee Dam #2, 1971, oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO. See technology and vertical.






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