Chicago River

Image of Chicago River, oil painting, Jean Crawford Adams, 1917
by Jean Crawford Adams, oil painting, 1917
In 1914, at age 28, Jean Crawford Adams began her training at the Art Institute of Chicago, continued her studies at the Provincetown School of Art in 1920, and finished in the 1920s in Paris. Throughout her career, Adams painted still-life and landscapes, acceptable subjects for a woman artist of her day, but her scenes of Chicago are what memorialize her.
This early painting from her career reflects how she interpreted the modernism of her day. She painted in a bold style of simplified flattened form, distorted perspective, and striking color to capture “the hustle and turmoil of this great windy city.” The city was her muse. In her statement, published in 1933 in J. Z. Jacobson’s Art of Today: Chicago, she wrote: 
'When I attempt to analyze what it is that has had the greatest effect on my art I conclude that it is Chicago--Chicago as it is today. ... [T]here is the breath-taking tempo of our commerce and industry. All these forces have a bearing on the inner life of the painters living in Chicago who do not go about with their eyes closed and their ears stopped up; and out of this thundering chaos intermingled with amazing efficiency and order emanate currents of power which may be spiritualized and transmuted into art.'

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