52 artworks, 7 artists
Precisionism is a tendency in American art of the first half of the 20th century. The paintings of Precisionist painters were distinguished by clear geometric shapes, lack of movement or dynamics, dry and mechanistic pepiction. Precisionism combined the elements of cubism and realism, therefore it received the second name, the cubist realism. The main subjects were the uninhabited urban and industrial landscapes: bridges, factories, and skyscrapers. Precisionists painters depicted the world of man, but without a man. This art style was called the “toughest” one in painting, and the history remembers these artists as “immaculates” or “sterilists”.

Precisionist style appeared in the USA after the end of the First World War, during the period of the industrial boom. The term “precision” was coined by Alfred Barr, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The art movement did not go beyond the borders of the country, nor did it receive a theoretical base or a formal program, and by the 1950s it lost popularity. The trend did not receive an unambiguous assessment of critics or public understanding. On the one hand, precision has become a laudatory song of industrialization, urbanization, and new technologies, and on the other hand, a subtle criticism of social problems and the “distraught society”, the world of smoking chimneys and concrete buildings. The “sterile painting” was the contribution of American art to the development of modernism and the emergence of pop art, magical realism and photorealism. The principles and techniques of precisionists influenced the creation of advertising, set design and the art of decoration.

The palette of the style consists of even colours: no spots, no components or colour transitions. The composition consists of fragmented planes, and the space image creates a feeling of a cold and soulless vacuum. The artists paid special attention to the accuracy of the transmission of geometric shapes of objects, light rays and textured details. Landscapes created an oppressive impression due to the “hard edges” technique. Even pastoral views, such as farm houses, country roads, flowerbeds and cottages, did not give the viewer a sense of warmth or cosiness. The mechanistic aesthetics and strict geometry of the picture conveyed the mood of both creative people and society.

Famous precisionist paintings:
Incense of the New Church” 1921, “From the Garden of the Château” 1921, “Chimney and Water Tower” by Charles Demuth; “Flagstaff” 1925, “New York Night” 1929, “Manhattan” 1932 by Georgia O’Keeffe; “Whitestone Bridge” 1940, “Boat and Grain Elevators” 1942 by Ralston Crawford.

Famous precisionist artists:
Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Schiller, Preston Dickinson, Louis Lozowick, Niles Spencer, Ralston Crawford, Sanford Ross, George Ault.