An early connection to industry and mills provided Precisionist painter Niles Spencer with his primary subject matter.
A native of Rhode Island, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design from 1913 to 1915 and then headed to New York where he studied at the Art Students League as well as private classes with George Bellows and Robert Henri. During this early period in his career he would split his time between New York and the artist colony in Ogunquit, Maine.
In the 1920s he headed to Europe where he studied the works of the Cubists and, interestingly, the Italian Renaissance masters. He was most influenced by the works of Cezanne, and this can be seen in his later abstract compositions.
He returned to America and exhibited frequently, though he was based in Provincetown, Rhode Island and not the art center of New York. His subject matter was the landscape surrounding him, and it was here that he first employed his "window view" imagery, which would appear back in is New York urban settings as well.
During the 1930s he returned to New York and began to focus on the architecture of the city, this continued into the 1940s and 1950s when his work took on even stronger elements of abstraction so readily available in the architectural forms of industrial America.
He frequently contributed to group exhibitions throughout his career and won several awards, including a purchase prize from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Whitney Museum also held a retrospective of Spencer's work in 1990.
His works are in several important museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.