Elsie Driggs: Precisionist Painter

Elsie Driggs (1895-1992) gave one of her last interviews for this State of the Arts story. She was 92 years old at the time, and still making art. Elsie Driggs was, with Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the best known women artists in the Precisionist movement of the 1920s and ’30s.  Her iconic painting “Pittsburgh” (1927) can be seen at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1990-91, her work was featured in a retrospective show organized by the New Jersey State Museum, and that traveled to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

In this story, Elsie recalls the inspiration behind some of her work, including her painting of massive steel stacks that she relates to the early Renaissance art of Piero della Francesca. Although she never gave up drawing and painting, Elsie’s career was later eclipsed by that of her husband, the abstract painter Lee Gatch. They lived in a primitive stone house (that for a time had no running water) in Lambertville, New Jersey until his death in 1968. Elsie Driggs then moved with her daughter, Merriman Gatch (also interviewed in the story), to New York City where she lived until her death in 1992.

Produced by Susan Wallner, and narrated by Amber Edwards.

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