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Man and Machine #1

Artist/Maker: Irene Rice Pereira (United States, 1902-1971)

Date: 1936
Medium: oil on canvas
Sight: 35 1/4 x 47 3/8 in. (89.5 x 120.3 cm)
Framed: 40 3/4 x 52 7/8 x 1 3/4 in. (103.5 x 134.3 x 4.4 cm)
Classification: Art Works
Credit Line: Gift of John V. Christie
Object number: 78.005.007
DescriptionIrene Rice Pereira's work explores social commentary during the era preceding World War II. She expresses the same fear of runaway technology that was captured in Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, Modern Times, which was released the same year. The painting’s title also evokes the name of economist Stuart Chase’s popular study of industrialization, Men and Machines, which was reissued in 1935. The imagery, reminiscent of Leger’s mechanomorphic Cubism, portrays laborers subjugated to and dwarfed and encumbered by the relentless belts, pulleys, and levers of industry. In the lower portion of the canvas, a semi-nude figure shoulders a bomb with an unlit fuse. While this image alludes to the mythological struggles of Atlas and Prometheus, it also symbolizes the potential explosion of world war, fueled by a growing military-industrial complex.
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