Elsie Driggs (1898-1992)
Jersey gem: Born in Lambertville
Elsie Driggs was the only female artist to participate in the Precisionist Movement in American art. This artistic movement was largely influenced by the machine age — paintings often featured industrial images in geometrically simplified compositions.
Between 1927 and 1928, Driggs painted four industrial scenes in the precisionist mode. Her abstract rendition of the “Queensborough Bridge” exemplifies the subject matter and style associated with this 1920s movement. Driggs was also one of the first artists to participate in the Work Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Art Projects, which was comprised of programs initiated by the federal government to assist struggling artists during the Depression years.
Driggs experimented with various artistic styles throughout her career. For instance, she added collages to her body of work after she watching her daughter tear and paste paper in a very haphazard fashion. Driggs’ watercolors from the 1940s were favorably reviewed and in the 1950s she transitioned between pastel and collage creations. Driggs drew inspiration throughout the 1980s from graffiti, cartoons, and billboards; she also experimented with mixed media like drawings, photographs and found objects.
Her work is displayed in a number of collections including the New Jersey State Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York City.