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Art History

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Essay title: Art History

World War I virtually severed artistic relations between America and Europe. Cultural interchange and patronage was interrupted by problems of social and political urgency, though most artists tended to be antiwar. Visual propaganda was left to the commercial designers and illustrators, while American painters continued in their efforts to consolidate the issues detonated by the Armory show.

Dominant tendency in American painting after World War I towards cubism and abstraction was called "Precisionism". The artists of this group had been influenced by cubism, which they saw in the work of Marcel Duchamp, a French Dada painter who appeared in New York City after 1915. Unlike European Cubism, where objects tended to break apart visually into numerous planes, Precisionists tried to reduce forms to their simplest shapes, up to the point of being abstract. For all of the artists working in this style, precisionism meant getting rid of all visual excess. Buildings and forms were reduced to basic geometric shapes, and the volume of buildings was adjusted to create a balanced, austere composition. Curves and straight edges were carefully balanced. Often, buildings or objects were isolated and removed from any context so that an abstract quality results. Precisionism was based in realism, but was controlled by geometric simplification stemming from cubism. The

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