Born in New York in 1889, Dickinson attended the Art Students League between 1906 and 1910, where he studied under William Merritt Chase. To further his artistic training, Dickinson lived in Paris between 1910 and 1914, enrolling in the École des Beaux Arts and the Académie Julian, and exhibiting in the prestigious Salon des Artistes Françaises and the Salon des Indépendants. It was after this trip to Paris that Dickinson produced his earliest paintings in the precisionist style, which emerged in the early twentieth century and depicted contemporary urban scenery and architecture with an emphasis on clean, geometric lines. Dickinson’s works effectively incorporate elements of Cubism, Futurism, and Japanese woodblock prints, and are sometimes reminiscent of Juan Gris and Paul Cezanne.
Dickinson died in 1930 at the age of 41. His first solo museum exhibition took place posthumously at the Phillips Collection in 1931. Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection, wrote of Dickinson that “during the comparative few years of his maturity as an artist he made a genuine impression on discriminating critics. His early loss was a tragedy. And yet his honored place in the history of American painting may, because of it, be all the more secure.”
During his lifetime, Dickinson enjoyed exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926 in Philadelphia, the Salons of America, the Art Institute of Chicago in 1929 and 1931, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Today, his paintings may be found at the Phillips Collection, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
1. (William) Preston Dickinson (1889–1930), The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, accessed December 2, 2016, http://www.phillipscollection.org/research/american_art/bios/dickinson-bio.htm