NARRATOR: Ralston Crawford called this painting Steel Foundry, Coatesville, Pennsylvania. It’s crisply painted; roof, walls, and fences are all rendered as simple, hard-edged planes. The painting is efficient, like the factory itself. Crawford’s rendering allows this efficiency to be double-edged. On the one hand, for a nation just beginning to recover from financial depression, productive industry was seen as the way forward. At the same time, efficiency can be dehumanizing, something that Crawford’s foreboding colors seem to acknowledge. There’s a kind of spiritual tension between the stark gray fence that cuts across the painting and the gloriously subtle sky—a recognition that progress is no simple thing.