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House and Street

1931

Stuart Davis, House and Street, 1931. Oil on canvas, 26 × 42 1/4 in. (66 × 107.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  41.3
Art © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Stuart Davis used colors, lines, shapes, patterns, and words to paint modern American life in the city. For this painting he chose two views—from beneath an elevated train track,—at the corner of Front Street and Coenties Slip in New York City. On the left, a close-up view of a house includes stylized bricks, shapes suggesting windows, and what may be a fire escape ladder. “FRONT” refers to the street pictured in the painting, but it may also describe the wall’s position in front of the elevated tracks. The artist included a bell, the symbol of the Bell Telephone company, and the name “SMITH,” which may indicate a poster for Alfred E. Smith, then the governor of New York, and seeking his party’s nomination in the 1932 presidential race.
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