Rooftops, New York City

Creation date
oil on canvas
24 x 18 in. 28-1/2 x 22-1/4 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of Allethaire Hendricks and Milton Fisk
Accession number
Not Currently On View

The sharp lines, geometric shapes and flat areas of color place Rooftops within the Precisionist style.

Precisionism was influenced by industrial development, such as skyscrapers and factories, and shows images painted with machine-like quality frozen in time like a photograph.

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Edward Fisk and the Precisionist Style

Edward Fisk was born in New York City. By his late teens, he had decided to make art his career and he attended classes at the Art Students League in New York. He also studied at the National Academy of Design and trained under Robert Henri. At this time, he met Stuart Davis, who would remain a lifelong friend. Fisk later went to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Académie Moderne. During his year in Paris, he became part of the avant-garde, attending evening gatherings at the home of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Fisk continued his interest in modernism after his return. He often visited Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, where he saw exhibitions of the most important avant-garde artists. Fisk never achieved the reputation of his colleagues. He taught at the University of Kentucky while trying to gain recognition as a modern artist.

Rooftops is composed of sharp lines, geometric shapes, and flat blocks of color, all of which characterize the formal aesthetic of Precisionism. Precisionism was influenced by industrial development such as skyscrapers and factories. The contrast of light and shadow creates a strikingly dramatic effect in this architectural portrait. This particular subject matter is unusual in Fisk’s oeuvre. Most of his works represent the farms and towns of Kentucky and Vermont.

Sadinsky, Rachel, William G. Sackett. Edward Fisk: American Modernist. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1998.