Precisionism in the Long 1920s


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art and Archaeology

Named Award

Ellen Holtzman Fellow named award


This dissertation reconsiders American precisionism by taking the movement at its word. At the same time that the phrase precision-made first came into use, painters began making pictures of factories, skyscrapers, and machine parts. It has long been argued that such artists were trying to mimic factory production and celebrate urbanization, but this is only one possible understanding of the term precision. This project develops an alternative definition by examining poetic theory, pragmatist philosophy, and popular science alongside a historical reconstruction of precisionist exhibitions in the 1920s and 1930s in order to offer a richer, more complex narrative of precisionist art.