Follow Nicole Longnecker Gallery on Artsy

Industrialism in the

21st Century

 

Introduction by

Lorena Kloosterboer

 

The aftermath of World War I gave rise to exciting times in American history. Technological advances energized the construction of giant new industries, architects and designers streamlined shapes and forms, and increased automobile travel offered fresh vistas of rapidly changing urban and industrial landscapes. Americans celebrated the arrival of the 20th Century.

 

Inspired by the power of fire and steel, and influenced by Art Deco, Cubism, and Futurism, visionary artists broke away from 19th century Romanticism and European post-war abstraction to develop their own, unique aesthetic voice. Precisionism, a term coined in 1927 by Alfred H. Barr, then director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, gave us great artists such as Charles Sheeler, Ralston Crawford, Charles Demuth, and Georgia O’Keefe.

 

Precisionist compositions distinguished themselves by simplified shapes with clear outlines, geometric structures with minimal detail, and smooth surfaces painted in a technically precise manner. With their celebratory and dramatic art, the Precisionists offered visions of renewed hope through striking representations focusing on unexpected viewpoints with an emphasis on spatial content. Impressive structures—such as skyscrapers and bridges as well as scenes of heavy industry featuring steel mills and coal mines—presented glimpses into a bright new future.

 

Precisionists became a movement by way of shared artistic style and subject matter, yet they never formally formed as a group nor released a manifesto. Fast forward to today—inspired by Precisionism a new genre is blossoming: Industrialism. Industrialism is the aptly evocative term coined by artist Allan Gorman to capture the subject matter which distinguishes itself from Precisionism by a more contemporary viewpoint and a more comprehensive array of expressions.

 

Like the Precisionists, the Industrialists are not a formal group and embrace a wide spectrum of styles, from photorealism to quasi abstraction. They are neutral observers who use mediums such as painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography to instill a sense of awe for both traditional as well as contemporary industrial and architectural technology. The virtual lack of human figures among these manmade structures and artificial settings adds to a sense of isolated quietude, evoking a wide range of emotions—from melancholic despair to idealistic wonder. Yet the human hand is always present in these exceptional interpretations, reminding us of the great leaps in technological advancements humanity continues to make, as well as the great art that is inspired by it.

 

This exhibition, entitled Industrialism in the Twenty-first Century, is a wonderful testimony of the lasting impact and influence of Precisionism as portrayed by ten talented contemporary artists from across the US, UK, and Canada.

 

Don Eddy is recognized as the youngest of the First-Generation Photorealists. His current paintings juxtapose thought-provoking images within striking multi-panel artworks. Eddy expertly applies his signature painting technique of overlaying transparent acrylic colors—optical mixing—to achieve radiant light and sophisticated color schemes, conveying a sense of peaceful tranquility. His highly detailed work explores nature and the mysteries of life within diverse architectural settings, inviting viewers to examine the earth’s riches, passing time, and the resulting changes.

 

Allan Gorman’s realistic artwork clearly shows his attraction to hidden abstract patterns, random shapes, and remarkable textures which he exposes within his oil paintings. To him, revealing abstract content and aesthetic tension within his paintings of machinery, bridges, and industrial structures, takes priority over fastidious rendering. His bold, loose brush strokes and elegant color schemes brilliantly express the romance, nostalgia, and sense of mystery he feels regarding the power of machines, industry, and the edgy parts of town.

 

Chris Klein’s background as scenic artist for film and theater and as a landscape painter are palpable in his extraordinary interpretation of sharply cropped scrapyard scenes. He portrays the abstract forms of twisted, corroding metal and other discarded materials as dramatic actors in a play, and elevates what most of us consider to be waste to a striking and thought-provoking part of our urbanized landscape. His acrylic paintings are intellectually stimulating testimonies of the world we live in.

 

Roland Kulla’s primary inspiration are bridges found in major cities, such as Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh. His cropped yet spacious compositions expose the details of these massive structures, revealing harmonious patterns in the seemingly random arrangement of bolts and rivets. His realistic acrylic paintings, pencil drawings, and woodcuts offer an idealized version of reality, inviting the viewer to appreciate the monumentality of these bridges and celebrate the talent and labor of those who designed and constructed them.

 

Sheryl Luxenburg’s hyperrealist watermedia paintings offer a unique spatial perspective of the Ottawa Shaw Centre, offering a multitude of subtle, ephemeral reflections in the glass surfaces that elegantly capture changing meteorological conditions as well as surrounding structures. As they oscillate between transparence and reflective mirror, the glass surfaces invite the viewer to consider life taking place behind the window panes. Abstract shapes and geometric lines form a distinctive view into the building’s spectacular visual passageways as perceived by the artist.

 

Stephen Magsig captures distinctly American scenes where industry and urbanization collide with natural landscapes, offering a record of the subtle beauty of wistful cityscapes and gritty industrial strength. To date he has completed over twenty-one hundred small oil paintings for his ongoing conceptual project documenting the city of Detroit. He portrays overlooked, neglected places that have altered the environment, inviting the viewer to discover the untold stories and profound emotions that the fingerprint of time has left behind.

 

Jan Anders Nelson examines thoughts and realities of the past, reflecting on them from a present viewpoint drawing on the wisdom and experience brought by time. His contemplative oil paintings and dramatic photographs portray yesteryear’s industrial endeavors upon which nature and the passage of time have left their visible mark. The earth tones and granular textures of eroded metals contrast sharply against unexpected areas of fresh color, suggesting human efforts to counteract the effects of time, nature, and neglect.

 

James Ritchie’s striking photographs of heavy industrial sites emphasize his role as an artist rather than as a photojournalist or documentarian. He chronicles images of ordinary, mostly overlooked structures and locations, inviting the viewer to take the time to consciously see, value, and celebrate them, even if the subject matter is completely foreign to the viewer’s usual scenery. His fascination with the massive, powerful dimensions found in industry are palpably noticeable in the architectural grandeur of his pieces.

 

Joseph Santos’ sensitive watercolors are portraits of urban and industrial equipment, focusing on weathered surfaces and cropped visual subject matter. The strong geometrical lines of man-made machinery beautifully juxtapose the abstract patterns of dirt, deterioration, and corrosion. Elements such as shape and value are central to his compositions, while striking subtleties can be found in the expression of materials such as steel and rubber. The delicate transparency of his medium skillfully captures the manifestations of nature affecting these structures.

 

While each of these ten artists create highly individual and distinct artwork, they do share an obvious passion for the realistic portrayal of both mundane as well as extraordinary manmade technology within the urban and industrial landscape, elevating them to a glorious celebration of the inevitable interaction between time, nature, and human progress. This remarkable exhibition offers an exciting, harmonious, and highly elegant collection of Industrialist art, inviting the viewer to take the time to experience an emotional response to each piece and reflect upon our place in this world.

 

Antwerp, Belgium

December 2016

 

Artist Bios

 

2625 Colquitt Street   ||    Houston, TX 77098  ||    346-800-2780

© 2017 Nicole Longnecker Gallery. All rights reserved.

Would you like to receive emails about our events? Subscribe here.