[Above: Edmund Lewandowski, American, 1914-1998, "Gas Company." Watercolor, 1937. Collection of the Racine Art
Museum, Works Progress Administration, Wisconsin Federal Art Project. 16 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches]
The exhibition "Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionism and Beyond" will open at the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA) at the University of Georgia on Sept. 10 and will run through Dec. 4. Organized by the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Mich., this retrospective is the first ever of the artist's work. The exhibition will examine all aspects of Lewandowski's oeuvre, which investigated a wide array of subjects in varied styles and media.
Lewandowski identified himself as a precisionist, a movement that emerged in the United States and reached its peak after World War I. Known for its precise, sharply defined geometrical shapes, precisionism combined cubism and realism and addressed themes, including American industrialization and modernization. Valerie Ann Leeds, Ph.D., who organized this exhibition, quotes Lewandowski as saying, "Our machines are as representative of our culture as temples and sculpture were of the Greeks. They are classically beautiful and represent physically the material progress that the nation has made."
Lewandowski also was an experimental artist, and the exhibition showcases his range, from representational to nonobjective, in his interpretations of subject matter. On display will be "Dynamo," an oil on canvas that combines the strong geometric lines of precisionism with the abstractions reminiscent of cubism. Also in the galleries will be more literal works, such as "Rock Hill Textile Plant" and "Milwaukee Brewery." Leeds also quotes Lewandowski as saying, "Rather than present reality, I try to treat these observations with personal honesty and distill these impressions to visual order."
In addition to industrial-themed imagery, this exhibition also showcases Lewandowski's more vernacular scenes and marine themes. "Marina II" shows a distinct interest in nautical life, gained from his childhood days on the shores of Lake Michigan.
This exhibition is a rare showcase of Lewandowski's work and its critical reception during his lifetime. Although Lewandowski identified himself with precisionism, his work went back and forth between styles throughout the course of his lifetime. His deep interest in industrial imagery was due to an "overwhelming desire through the years" to record "the beauty of man-made objects and [the] energy of American Industry." This exhibition will not only display his works, but also his career as a whole and his impact as a painter and educator. It will be sponsored by Katie and Ian Walker, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.