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Preston Dickinson (1889-1930): Paintings and Drawings


From September 10 to October 26, 2002, Zabriskie Gallery exhibits the paintings and drawings of the American precisionist Preston Dickinson (1889-1930). Long overdue, this is the first one-person exhibition of his work since the Whitney Museum's retrospective in 1980. A contemporary of Sheeler and Demuth, Dickinson remains an elusive, though well-established, member of the cubist-realist tradition. Dickinson was born in New York and studied at the Art Students League under Ernest Lawson, from whom he acquired a taste for the decorative quality of Japanese prints. He later moved to Paris and spent five years between 1910 and 1914 assimilating the canvases of his most revered artist, Paul Cezanne. Dickinson returned to America at the advent of war and with Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth introduced a unique and beautiful precisionist approach to Cubism, akin to the clean, hard edges of American industry. As early as 1914, Dickinson was exhibiting together with Sheeler and Demuth at the Charles Daniel Gallery. As part of the generation which experienced the heady rise of the school of Paris, Dickinson is to be noted for his uniquely American vision -- one which built on the European motif of still life but often included knives, cocktail mixers, and other metallic surfaces more appropriate to an industrialized society. In landscapes as well, Dickinson preferred homegrown depictions of bridges, boats, and chimneys to idyllic scenes of forests and beaches. "The languor at mealtime, lovingly immortalized in the countless still lifes of the bread, wine, and cheeses of France, was never an American trait. Nor could scenes of bathers capture the dynamism of America at the turn of the century" (Beth Urdang).This exhibition, co-curated by Virginia Zabriskie and Thomas S. Holman, signifies an important re-introduction of Preston Dickinson to the American and New York gallery world. Dickinson was an extremely accomplished artist whose promising career was unfortunately cut short by an early death at the age of forty-one. On the occasion of this show of over 20 works from private and public collections, a comprehensive brochure with color reproductions and an essay by Thomas S. Holman will be published.

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