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“Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art”

Curated by Emma Acker

A large-scale survey of a quintessentially modern American art, “Cult of the Machine” assembles paintings by interwar Precisionists, among them Elsie Driggs, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and Francis Criss, with photographs, films, decorative arts, and industrial objects—including a classic Cord Phaeton automobile—totaling more than one hundred items. At a moment when high tech dominates American cultural consciousness, it’s illuminating to recognize how the machine age was similarly tempered by affective responses of attraction and anxiety. From Morton Livingston Schamberg’s Telephone, 1916, and Driggs’s Aeroplane, 1928, to Walter Dorwin Teague’s ca. 1935 midnight-blue Nocturne radio, Alma Lavenson’s photographs of oil tanks in Alameda, California, and Clarence Holbrook Carter’s War Bride, 1940, which casts a steel mill as a cathedral, this exhibition explores how artists simultaneously embraced and critiqued modernity’s industrial products. An accompanying catalogue will feature texts by the curator and others. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, September 9, 2018–January 6, 2019.