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Colby College. Art Dept.


In the early decades of the twentieth century, the pursuit of efficiency came to dominate instances of industrial and artistic production: the engineering consultants Frank and Lillian Gilbreth attempted to visualize a language of minimal waste, while Precisionist art achieved its own aesthetic of efficiency. This essay examines the Precisionist project alongside the discourses of the rationalized factory and suggests a relationship between the formal economy of Precisionism and the rhetoric of scientific management. For Precisionist art and the Gilbreths' time-motion studies, the representation of efficiency ultimately entailed the elision of artist and worker as producers of labor.


Originally published: Representations 84.1 (2003), pp. 139-165.



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