George Ault


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Painter. Often associated with precisionism, he extended the disciplined bounds of that style into a more romantic form of expression. Born in Cleveland, as a child he moved with his family to London. There he studied at the Slade School of Fine Arts and St. John's Wood Art School. Visits to France acquainted him with modern movements in art. After settling in New York in 1911, he usually summered in Provincetown. In the early 1920s, he numbered among the first Americans to adopt machinery as a subject for painting. Besides painting the urban vistas favored by precisionists, he also remained continuously attracted to landscape. From Brooklyn Heights (Newark [New Jersey] Museum, 1928) melds several conflicting interests. This view across the river to Manhattan delineates simplified, boxy buildings, tugboats, and railroad cars with precisionist attention to structure and clarity. Yet a passenger liner steaming in from the left implies motion, while steam, smoke, and clouds evoke transient atmospheric conditions. Many other paintings depict night scenes, almost unheard of among other precisionists who favored the neutral, shadow-free light of midday. In 1937 Ault moved permanently to Woodstock, where his work took on greater poetry but also increased melancholy. Around 1946 his work entered the imaginary territory of surrealism. In an apparent suicide, he drowned in a creek near his home.

Subjects: Art.

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