Painting IV (Mechanical Abstraction)
Morton Livingston Schamberg, American, 1881 - 1918
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.