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By Miles Orvell

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Additional resources for After the Machine: Visual Arts and the Erasing of Cultural Boundaries

Sample text

There are splendid curves in steam lines, in belts, and in all moving machinery" (Vos, 17). Ten years later, Jane Heap, introducing the special issue of The Little Review that served as the catalogue for the ''Machine-Age Exposition" (1927), affirmed, "There is a great new race of men in America: the Engineer. He has created a new mechanical world, he is segregated from men in other activities . . it is inevitable and important to the civilization of today that he make a union with the architect and artist.

And commuter rails had extended the city beyond its 19th century core to expanded metropolitan regions, embracing suburban communities that became bedrooms to the city's commercial districts (Jackson). After 1900, the automobileone of the major products of America's manufacturing systemwas rolling off the assembly lines in ever increasing numbers: from 4,000 in 1900, to 181,000 in 1910, to nearly two million in 1920 and over four million in 1929. During these same years, surfaced roads increased from 150,000 miles in 1904 to nearly 700,000 miles in 1930 (Rosenberg 114; 115).

Sheeler quickly learned to exploit the "distortions" (to use Epstein's term) of mechanical seeing, resulting in a variety of paintings in which the subject was seen through the close up (Upper Deck, 1929; Yankee Clipper, 1939), the reflection (Self-Portrait, 1923), the distorted juxtaposition (American Interior, 1934). The camera anchored Sheeler in perceptual realism, giving to his depictions of the object a three-dimensional solidity at the same time that he exploited its distorting vision. The new camera-seeing is fully visible as early as 1921, in the film that Sheeler made with Paul Strand, a seven-minute production that was exhibited brieflyto enthusiastic reviewsat Broadway's Rialto Theater, under the title, New York the Magnificent.

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