Whirling Mechanical Precisionism

Fine Arts Museums of San FranciscoCharles Sheeler: Rolling Power, 1939

One of the most unforgettable exhibitions in my experience—“The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age”—opened at the Museum of Modern Art fifty years ago, when I was a college junior. Organized by the Swedish curator Pontus Hultén, this provocative show ran a thrilling gamut of Western art, from an eighteenth-century Swiss automaton to Marcel Duchamp’s readymade Dada appropriations to a painted steel remnant of Homage to New York, Jean Tinguely’s self-constructing, self-destroying mechanized sculpture, which in 1960 blew itself up on cue in the MoMA sculpture garden.

As a product of my times, I’d already been well indoctrinated in the central Modernist principle that the mechanical is not only beautiful but preferable to the sentimental art of the past. MoMA has long played a central role

Article source: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/04/29/whirling-mechanical-precisionism/

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