Docent Tour: "Cult of the Machine"
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Charles Sheeler, "Classic Landscape," 1931. Oil on canvas, 25 × 32 1/4 in. (63.5 × 81.9 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth, 2000.39.2. © Estate of Charles Sheeler, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Herbst Exhibition Galleries
Characterized by highly structured, geometric compositions with smooth surfaces, linear qualities, and lucid forms, Precisionism—a style that emerged in America in the teens and flourished during the 1920s and 1930s—reconciled realism with abstraction, and wed European art movements, such as Purism, Cubism, and Futurism, to American subject matter to create a streamlined, “machined” aesthetic with themes ranging from the urban and industrial to the pastoral. The tensions and ambivalences about industrialization expressed in works by the Precisionists are particularly fascinating and relevant to a contemporary audience in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which robots are replacing human labor for various functions, underscoring many of the same excitements and concerns about modernization that existed nearly one hundred years ago.
Connections between the past and the present will be explored throughout this large-scale survey, which will feature more than 100 masterworks of American Precisionism by such modernists as Charles Sheeler, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Demuth. This exhibition will shed scholarly light on the aesthetic and intellectual concerns undergirding the development of this important strand of early American modernism to explore the origins of its style, its relationship to photography, and its aesthetic and conceptual reflection of the economic and social changes wrought by industrialization and technology.
This tour is free after special exhibition admission and convenes at the exhibition entrance on the lower level. If you would like to book a private tour, please contact the Group Sales Office at 415.750.2620 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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