Blast Furnace #5, 1949
Oil on canvas
34 x 28 inches
Signed and dated lower right
Edmund Lewandowski is widely acknowledged as a preeminent second-generation Precisionist and sometimes called the “Last Precisionist,” as he lived and worked primarily in the Midwest. He is credited for extending the Precisionist style beyond the East Coast, ensuring that it became a national style with enduring power.
One of the most prolific subjects in Lewandowski’s career was the blast furnace, a large industrial machine used in steel mills, inspired by the numerous factories that dotted the Midwestern Rustbelt, in Birmingham, Michigan, Gary, Indiana, and throughout his native Wisconsin. His earliest painting of the subject, Blast Furnace No. II, 1941, depicts the entire machine and its adjacent barn-like structures. He continued to be fascinated by blast furnaces into the 1940s, simplifying the machine into geometric shapes and lines as in the present work, Blast Furnace #5. Painted in 1949, the work depicts a close-up perspective of the industrial form, seen from a plant’s roof. Using abstraction, Lewandowski rendered the subject as a web of geometric forms and bright colors.