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Styles & Periods

Influenced by Futurism and Cubism, American painters developed a style called Precisionism in the 1920s. The industrialization of America was in full force, and several artists reacted by creating paintings of exacting precision, sharp lines and clear palettes. The theme of industrial development were central visual subjects for the Precisionists, and included architecture, machines and rail yards. Beyond this central focus on modernization, compositions of considerable diversity were achieved. Charles Demuth’s “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold” is one of the famous paintings from this movement, as it reflects several of Precisionism’s influences. The multi-layered shapes taken from urban architecture appear as if seen from several viewpoints, demonstrating strong ties to Cubism. Other Precisionists, notably Charles Sheeler, opted for a more realistic style, but paid equal reverence to the forces that were beginning to define a nation. Crystalline lighting, geometric forms and figureless compositions typify Precisionist work. Other artists who contributed to the movement include Georgia O’Keefe, George Ault, Ralston Crawford, Preston Dickinson and Niles Spencer. Precisionism is credited as the first American abstract movement in painting.

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