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Painting IV (Mechanical Abstraction)

Morton Livingston Schamberg, American, 1881 - 1918

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Oil on panel

13 3/4 x 10 3/4inches (34.9 x 27.3cm) Framed: 17 3/8 x 14 3/8 x 1 3/8 inches (44.1 x 36.5 x 3.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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This painting is one of a series of nine exquisitely crafted images of individual machines that Morton Schamberg made in Philadelphia in 1916. These austere pictures reveal the artist's appreciation of the formal beauty of machinery and industrial manufacturing. They can be viewed today as an important precursor of the Precisionist aesthetic developed by Schamberg's lifelong friend Charles Sheeler, among others, in the 1920s. The immediate inspiration can be found in Marcel Duchamp's precisely rendered chocolate-grinder paintings and Francis Picabia's schematic portraits, although Schamberg's depersonalized mechanical abstractions do not exhibit the sexual symbolism found in the work of his French colleagues.