• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2171

    Important American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture

    20 May 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1

    Preston Dickinson (1891-1930)

    Grain Elevator

    Price Realised  

    Preston Dickinson (1891-1930)
    Grain Elevator
    signed and dated 'Preston Dickinson - '24-' (lower left)
    pastel and pencil on paper
    19 x 15¼ in. (48.3 x 38.7 cm.)


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    Grain Elevator manifests Preston Dickinson's engagement with America's growing industrialization and his characteristic precisionist style. Ruth Cloudman writes that around 1918, "Dickinson began a series of industrial scenes in which he found a subject well-suited to the qualities of his style. In many ways his adoption of a purely industrial subject was a logical outgrowth of his earlier urban views that contained small industrial vignettes." (Preston Dickinson 1889-1930, exhibition catalogue, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1979, p. 25) In Grain Elevator, Dickinson employs strong lines and sharply defined, planar forms to depict the various architectural structures and create an interplay between the buildings as he captures and abstracts existent patterns. He further enhances this structural dialogue through the intermittent use of color, which adds depth and complexity to the overall verticality of the composition. The factory, which appears in other works from 1924, is set within a larger landscape as indicated by the railyard in the foreground and partially smoke obscured buildings in the distance. While Dickinson explored a variety of subjects during his career including still life and landscape painting, it is the precisionist, industrial works such as Grain Elevator for which he is best known.