The Precisionist View in American Art: An Exhibition

The Precisionist View in American Art: An Exhibition

The Precisionist View in American Art: An Exhibition

The Precisionist View in American Art: An Exhibition

Excerpt

This exhibition is a profile of one of the most significant directions in American art. Its artists have meticulously painted a remarkable complex of indigenous themes: colonial architecture, pristine farm-houses and barns, prairies and deserts untouched by "progress," and the great urban and industrial manifestations that for so long symbolized America to the world.

The exhibition is heavily weighted in its representation of works from the Twenties. Historically this is as it should be since in that decade the Precisionist premise was completely revealed, its themes and techniques were all in evidence.

In planning the exhibition, no attempt was made to show an equal number of works by each artist. Rather, it seemed reasonable to document in greater detail the development of those painters who throughout their mature careers adhered to Precisionist approaches. In recent years, virtually all the artists of the original Precisionist group have been presented in one-man exhibitions that have been thoughtful, objective documentations of their art; these are noted in the catalogue's biographical section.

The number of works included for each artist is not necessarily proportionate to his individual reputation but indicates the degree of his relationship to the Precisionist development. Thus the painting of Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Sheeler receives the greatest attention in the exhibition and essay. These artists represent the essence and the heights of the movement. For Sheeler, architectural and mechanical themes have been central to his entire production. If purely architectural themes are a smaller part of O'Keeffe's painting, her unwaveringly "precise" approach to a unique iconography of botanical forms, landscapes, still lifes, and abstractions readily establishes her dominance in the movement.

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