A couple years ago I saw the exhibit Cult of the Machine: Precisionism in American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. In addition to seeing a startlingly beautiful and unique Georgia O'Keeffe, the exhibit left me with such a positive impression that I used a quote from the curator in a presentation I gave at a CFD conference shortly thereafter. After all, precisionism was a movement that depicted in art the glory and power of technological and architectural development and in America in the 1920s and 1930s. And CFD is nothing if not precision.
Through a recent article in the WSJ on the exhibit Ralston Crawford: Air + Space + War, I found a fork in the Precisionist road. Crawford's work matured during WWII when he had access to a variety of aircraft settings (flights, factories) and post-war nuclear testing - including being in the U.S. Army. That exposure to death and destruction greatly influenced his work, retaining the flatness and precision of Precisionism while introducing an element of chaos that heightens the work's emotional appeal.
Certainly my initial attraction was the usual juxtaposition of several of my interests (painting, aircraft, nuclear weapons development). But upon reading the exhibition catalog and learning about the development of Crawford's work and how it fits with his contemporaries (the chapter on aviation art was really interesting) I found myself loving his painting solely on its own merits - the shift of perspective, the rough edges, the colors.
So if you're in Pennsylvania, I recommend heading over to the Brandywine River Museum of Art before the exhibition closes on 19 Sept. For everyone else, here's a video walkthrough that deserves more than 72 views.