Docent Lecture: "Stuart Davis: In Full Swing", by Marsha Holm
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Stuart Davis, Owh! in San Pao, 1951. Oil on canvas, 52 3/16 x 42 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 52.2. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing is the first major exhibition in 20 years dedicated to this key figure in American Modernism. Featuring approximately 75 works—spanning from the artist’s breakthrough series in the 1920s focusing on tobacco packages and household objects to the painting left on his easel at his death, in 1964—the exhibition highlights Davis’s unique ability to assimilate the visual languages of European Modernism, the imagery of popular culture, the aesthetics of advertising, and the rhythms of jazz into colorful, complex works. Blurring distinctions between “high” and “low” art, between abstraction and figuration, and between text and imagery, these paintings reflect both the excitement and turbulence of the artist’s times.
Davis was a lifelong jazz enthusiast, and his working method of appropriating and reworking his own earlier compositions shares with that musical genre the concept of variations on a theme, and similarly conveys a distinctly modern sense of dynamism and vibrancy. This is the first major exhibition to install works from different periods of the artist’s career alongside one another to explore their persistent thematic and visual interconnections. Davis’s innovative works paved the way for major developments in American postwar art such as Pop, and they remain resonant, relevant, and influential today.
Free. No reservations.
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