The Art of America Homeschool Unit Study: The Early Twentieth Century – PrecisionismEva Varga
The Early Twentieth Century, Part 2
Precisionism (1920 – early ‘30s)
Around 1920, a number of artists in the United States began experimenting with a highly controlled approach to technique and form. They consistently reduced their compositions to simple shapes and underlying geometrical structures, with clear outlines, minimal detail, and smooth handling of surfaces.
Precisionism, a term coined in 1927 by MoMA’s first director, depicted American architecture, industry, and landscapes in highly precise but simplified lines and forms. Although influenced by Cubism, Precisionists were distinctly American in their focus on regional imagery like skyscrapers, suspension bridges, and mills. It was the first indigenous modern-art movement in the United States and an early American contribution to the rise of Modernism.
Charles Demuth (1883-1935), originally a watercolorist, began using oils later in his career. These later works are considered to be major contributions to the Precisionist art movement.
Michelle East has a great Charles Demuth “5” Inspired Typography lettering design lesson on her blog, Create Art With Me
Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) was an American illustrator, graphic artist and comics writer. He was also well known as a painter. Frost’s work is well known for its dynamic representation of motion and sequence.
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers and New Mexico landscapes, though these works are not closely related to Precisionism. She herself resisted labels but I include her here because her paintings New York City with Moon (1926) and The Shelton With Sun Spots are great examples of the Precisionist style.
Christine Elder provides a great Georgia O’Keeffe inspired art lesson on her blog, Fostering an Appreciation & Understanding of our Natural World.
The Art of America Homeschool Unit Studies
This post is part of a 10-post series, providing an overview of the history of American art from Pre-Colonial times to today, including multiple art forms:
- wood carvings
- editorial cartoons
Moving chronologically through All American History curriculum, each post summarizes the art trends and movements popular during the period and features one or two artists from that time period. Plus I will provide a related art lesson or project that you can enjoy with your students.
- First Nations People
- Colonial Art
- The Hudson River School
- The Civil War & Reconstruction
- The Gilded Age & American Impressionism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Cubism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Precisionism (this post)
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