Oil on canvas
Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund; P.950.64
Although Preston Dickinson began his training in New York City, his stay in Paris from 1912 to 1914 was critical in the evolution of his mature style. There he became acquainted with such modernist innovations as cubism, futurism, and synchromism, styles that he drew upon in expressing his developing machine aesthetic. Dickinson firmly believed that technology was beneficial to mankind and was one of the first American artists to explore industrial themes in his art. He and other so-called precisionists, including Charles Sheeler, Niles Spencer, and Joseph Stella, found the underlying geometry of industrial subjects ideally suited to their distilled, sometimes fractured, compositions. Rejecting the traditional academic subjects associated with the Victorian era, they attempted to gain cultural and artistic relevancy by embracing technological “progress” as one of America’s defining twentieth-century features. This work compresses a range of industrial elements—water tanks, factory buildings, smokestacks, and vents—into a vertical space, creating a dynamic interplay of varied masses and angles highlighted with clear, bright color and the random reflections of light. The result is less a transcription of a specific industrial scene than an exaltation of machine power.
Last Updated: 4/29/09