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Industrial photography is a view onto what is powerful and precise. Our collection includes works by celebrated artists as well as up-and-comers in the art world.
Industrial art is usually understood to encompass diesel, steel, machinery, commercial aircraft, or shipping containers as subject matter. But photography is itself an industrial medium. Photography is both itself one of the great testaments to the growth of industry, as well as the technology which has allowed us to document the rise of modern industry and its consequences. From its beginnings in simple portraiture, however, photography has also been an elaborate art form, finding a home in many different genres, from avant-garde movements to photorealist art.
In a sense, industrial art is as old as industry itself. Metaphors of mechanization, and anxieties about the displacement of the human by machines animated the art and literature of the 19th century. Especially towards the end of the 19th century, industrial art first began to reflect some of the associations which to this day have proven to be most durable: handicraft, the manipulation of glass, metal, and wood. In this form industrial art was associated especially with social movements which advocated the creative empowerment of the working classes, and the harnessing of crafts which held out the promise of reestablishing culture on the basis of earlier social forms.
It was only in the early decades of the 20th century, however, with the increasing prevlance of documentary photography, that industrial art began to take on some of the contours more familiar to us today. Social activists and documentarians in Europe and elsewhere used cameras to record the working conditions and goings-on in factories, at the fishmongers, and on the picket lines.
The horrors of mechanized warfare associated with the First World War, in particular, provoked expressionists like Georg Grosz and Max Beckmann to circumscribe the predicament of the human as they saw it. In their vivid paintings and in their printmaking, inspired by artists of the Northern Renaissance like Duerer and Gruenewald, they depicted the spectacular breakdown of the human machine - exposed by wartime medicine as just so many gears and levers, all susceptible, just like machines, of malfunction. It was within the scope of this tradition that latter-day expressionists like Georg Baselitz have conceived their remarkable visual reflections on the human condition.
In the second half of the 20th century, industrial art became bound up with artistic movements which drew on reproducibility, not firstly as a threat to authenticity, but instead as a productive force. Translated into the idiom of authorship, it gave the artist the possibility of hiding behind a mask. Andy Warhol's legendary pop art studio, for example, was called "The Factory", nodding to the perils and promises perceived by forerunners and contemporaries in the artworld who saw the factory as the original incarnation of modernity's ailments.
Especially in the latter decades of the 20th century, with the rise of product photography as an artform in itself, along with increasing favorability towards the industrial as an aesthetic, industrial art began to come into its own.
In part, industrial art has been a retrospective view onto fantasies of exposed gears and clockwork realities which are believed to have existed at one time, and which are now believed to have been overcome. But industrial art has also been futuristic, focused on qualities of speed, strength, and intelligence which are claimed to be embodied in technological advancements. To a great extent, then, industrial art is always deeply bound up with feelings about time and progress.
Lumas is one of the world's most celebrated purveyors of exclusive and collectible fine art prints and photography. All photographs and prints in our portfolios undergo a custom photo development method, combining traditional techniques with cutting-edge enhancements.
Our industrial art portfolio features stunning photographs of modern equipment, from shipping containers to commercial airplanes. The element of abstraction introduced with aerial views of parked planes, or diesel-powered ships removed from the ocean, shares much in common with abstract art. Like industrial art, abstract art focuses in on reality at its most formal, drawing attention to the hidden structures and dispositions of perceived reality. If you are interested in our industrial art, explore our abstract photography.
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