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Francis Hyman Criss

(1901 - 1973)
Critically acclaimed in the 1930s, the provocative paintings of New York artist Francis Criss are virtually unknown today. His cityscapes and portraits from that decade are a rare blend of Precisionism and Surrealism and often address America’s changing social and industrial climate. They share the austere geometry and pure, flat colors characteristic of the work of the artist’s contemporaries George Ault, Charles Demuth, and Charles Sheeler, who were associated with the precisionist movement. Criss’s combination of figuration and abstraction suggests a close link to such diverse artists as the American modernists Peter Blume, and Stuart Davis as well as the Italian surrealist Georgio de Chirico. As one critic observed, his pictures capture "that terrific moment immediately before or after something shocking or cataclysmic takes place."