Elsie Driggs was one of the few 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. As the daughter of a steel-mill engineer, Driggs 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. Driggs 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.

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Elsie Driggs, American, 1898–1992
Oil on canvas
Canvas: 44 x 38 in. (111.8 x 96.5 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Artist; Courtney Sale and Steven J. Ross, New York, 1979 - present; purchased from Meredith Long & Company, 2006