Precisionism is a style of painting that emerged in the United States during the early 20th century.
It grew out of American realism, but it differed from its predecessor in its focus on industrial and technological subjects, as well as its use of geometric forms and hard-edged lines.
The movement was spearheaded by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) and Charles Demuth (1883-1935), who were both born in Pennsylvania.
Their work helped to establish Precisionism as an important artistic trend during this period.
However, other artists such as Ralston Crawford also contributed significantly to its development by experimenting with new ideas about form and coloration while continuing to explore traditional themes such as landscape painting.
Influences of Technology
The influence of technology on Precisionism is evident in the way artists used photography and film to capture precise details.
This was especially true for Charles Sheeler, who worked as a photographer before becoming an artist.
His photographs were often used as the basis for his paintings, which featured industrial scenes such as factories and warehouses.
In his work “Factory Interior” (1928), Sheeler uses the same techniques he’d learned while working as a photographer:
he captures each object with great detail, highlighting its importance within the larger context of industry at large.
Focus on Industrial Landscape
In contrast to the Impressionists, who focused on the effects of light on color and form, Precisionists sought to capture a more industrial landscape in their work.
While they were not as interested in capturing fleeting moments like their French counterparts, they did share an interest in geometric shapes and lines that would become prevalent throughout their paintings.
The Precisionist movement was born out of this fascination with geometric shapes and lines;
they wanted to capture beauty and power within these structures rather than focus solely on their appearance or function.
In doing so, they created an aesthetic style unlike any other at the time–one that would later influence artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko who would go on create what we now know as Abstract Expressionism.
Abstraction and Stylization
When you look at a Precisionist painting, you’ll notice that the artist has simplified his subject matter.
He has taken out all unnecessary details and focused on just a few important elements of the subject.
This allows him to create a sense of order and harmony in his work.
The idea behind this style is similar to abstraction: artists want their audience to focus on their message rather than getting distracted by extraneous details or colors that don’t contribute anything meaningful to the piece as a whole.
Charles Sheeler’s Upper Deck
The Upper Deck is a painting by Charles Sheeler that depicts a group of men at work on an oil derrick.
The artist’s use of realism and detail has been called “precisionist,” and it’s easy to see why:
every worker looks like he could be identified by name, and the machinery they work with appears to have been designed by engineers who knew exactly what they were doing.
This level of detail isn’t unusual for Sheeler; he often used photography as his source material, so that his paintings would look as realistic as possible (and therefore more appealing).
But even though this painting contains many elements common in American Precisionism art–abstract shapes defined by light and shadow; geometric forms based on industrial design.
It still feels like something new. There’s no mistaking this scene for anything other than what it is: a group of people working together toward a common goal!
George Ault’s Urban Landscapes
George Ault was one of the first Precisionist artists, who used realism and abstraction to create a sense of order and harmony in his paintings.
In his work “Urban Landscape #1” (1913), you can see how he uses these techniques in this painting:
- Realism – The buildings are realistically drawn with accurate details like windows, doors, bricks and mortar.
- Abstraction – The trees at the top of the painting are stylized so that they look more like geometric shapes than actual trees.
- This makes them easier for viewers to understand what they represent without distracting from other elements on canvas such as houses or streets below them which would otherwise take away from focus on those particular objects if they weren’t simplified in some way (i e., abstracted).
- Sense Of Order And Harmony – Everything is neatly organized within each square inch of space available on canvas surface so nothing looks cluttered together too much while still maintaining balance throughout entire composition.”