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Precisionism


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A movement in American painting, originating c.1915 and flourishing in the interwar period, particularly the 1920s, in which urban and especially industrial subjects were depicted with a very smooth and precise technique, creating clear, sharply defined, sometimes quasi-Cubist forms. The terms ‘Cubist-Realists’, ‘Immaculates’, and ‘Sterilists’ have also been applied to Precisionist painters. They were not a formal group, but they often exhibited together. Demuth, O'Keeffe, and Sheeler were among the leading figures. In Precisionist painting the light is typically brilliantly clear (although George Ault (1891–1948) was best known for his night scenes) and forms are often chosen for their geometric interest. Human presence is excluded and there is no social comment. Rather, the American industrial and technological scene is endowed with an air of epic grandeur. The degree of Cubist influence varied greatly. Some of Sheeler's paintings are in an almost photographically realistic style, whereas other works are semi-abstract. Precisionism was influential in both imagery and technique on American Magic Realism and Pop art.

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