Skip to Content
 
Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

 
 
 
ELSIE DRIGGS
American, 1898 - 1992
Aeroplane
1928
Oil on canvas

44 x 38 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund

Arts of North America
 
ABOUT

Elsie Driggs was one of the only women associated with the Precisionist movement in early 20th-century American art. In precise, sharply delineated, geometric forms, the Precisionists championed the bridges, planes, towers, mills, and factories that made up America's new industrial landscape, as seen in this depiction of the latest form of transportation: the aeroplane.

Driggs, the daughter of a steel-mill engineer, understood modern industry well. In 1928, en route to Ford Motor Company's celebrated Rouge factory plant in Detroit, she became fascinated with the Ford Tri-Motor plane in which she was flying and decided to depict the aircraft in a painting. She produced several sketches and completed Aeroplane upon her return to New York, where she exhibited the work in her first solo exhibition, at Daniel Gallery in 1929.

Isolating the plane in the center of the composition, Driggs offers a specimen for the viewer to savor, a modern technological marvel. Using muted tones of gray, the artist defines the sleek metal materials of the plane. The tightly painted canvas is lined with various diagonals, creating an abstract, almost gridlike effect, which gives the plane a sense of dynamism and movement. Like other Precisionist paintings of the era, Aeroplane partakes of both realism and abstract design.