Preston Dickinson was born in New York City in 1891. He studied at the Art Students League from 1906 until 1910 where he developed a reputation for works that involved architectural subjects especially ones that had an industrial theme, all of which were conceived in a very Precisionist style of painting. Two of his fellow students were Ernest Lawson and George Bellows. In 1915 Dickinson moved to Paris where he remained until 1919. In Paris Dickinson was greatly influenced by the Cubist movement and particularly with the work of Paul Cezanne. During his stay he exhibited at the Salons des Artistes Français. When he returned to New York City, he exhibited his works at the Daniel Gallery. Beset by financial troubles and in ill health he returned to Europe in 1930 and sadly died of pneumonia the same year on September 25th in Spain. He had brought with him to Europe a large portfolio of drawings which he had hoped to show to art dealers in Paris. This portfolio was returned by the United States Embassy to his sister Enid Dickinson, who sold them to Edith Halpert of the Downtown Gallery in New York City, as the Daniel Gallery where Dickinson had previously shown his work had closed.
In A Pair of Studies for Screens Preston Dickinson creates two very pleasing and intriguing vignettes. The first is a summer view of homes by the water complete with bathers, boats of every color and size imaginable, pet dogs, and automobiles from the "Roaring '20's" engaged in all sorts of outdoor activities. The second scene shows the same group of homes from the rear and from an elevated mountain perspective during the winter months seemingly bereft of any human existence or activity. There are instead only silent piles of snow and a sense of hibernation, of quiet, and almost abandonment, as though the summer dwellers had decamped for warmer climates. In both studies, however, these village scenes have been laid out in a most precise, logical and carefully constructed viewpoint. There is an architectural exactness to the order of the homes, the streets, the water, and all the components that was typical of Dickinson's Precisionist style of painting. There is further a sharpness and a clarity to the delineation of the figures and the terrain that extends throughout the views to all the components of his compositions-from the low sleek automobiles, to the sharp right angles of the floating rafts, to the straight edged roof lines, and the crisp bows of the lake boats. The bright clear color palette of the summer screen is juxtaposed against the more somber muted tones of its winter counterpart. Dickinson has succeeded in capturing the opposing dichotomy of the year's progression—the bustling energetic months of summer and the idle, silent, and almost monotonous shuttered months of winter.
Zabriskie Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1990
Zabriskie Gallery, New York, NY, Preston Dickinson, Paintings and Drawings September 10, 2002 - October 26, 2002