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Precisionism By Root, Colin

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM194-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 30 November 2023, from


Precisionism was a modernist art movement during the 1920s and 1930s in the United States, in which painters produced a ‘‘machine aesthetic’’ by rendering precise, geometrical forms in their works. A group of American painters originally called ‘‘The Immaculates,’’ the Precisionists celebrated new industrial landscapes of skyscrapers, factories, bridges, and other mechanized phenomena. Although they were never a formalized school and worked without a manifesto, Precisionism reflected both the exciting dynamism of the ‘‘Roaring Twenties’’ as well as the streamlined simplicity of the Great Depression. Their images produced an ambivalent attitude toward mechanization, at once praising its efficiency while condemning its dehumanization. Appearing immediately after a host of other influential modernist movements such as Cubism and Futurism, Precisionists merged the impulse toward abstraction with a photographically realistic eye. While no artist worked exclusively as a Precisionist, there were several for whom it was a formative style. Perhaps the most prolific artists who produced Precisionist works were Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Together, these three painters and several others created a distinctly American brand of imagery that was a celebration of nationhood as much as a celebration of mechanization.

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Citing this article:

Root, Colin. "Precisionism." The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis, 2016. Date Accessed 30 Nov. 2023 doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM194-1

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