NARRATOR: House and Street presents us with two images, framed in very different ways. Both show Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan, near Front Street.
The image at left shows Front Street head on: there are tenement buildings, and advertisements for the telephone company and New York Governor Al Smith’s unsuccessful presidential run against Herbert Hoover.
On the right we see a portion of the Third Avenue elevated train—the ‘L,” as it was known—where its tracks follow an extreme curve. Davis emphasizes both the steel girders and the dramatic contour of the rail line. The curve brings the eye quickly across the frame, mimicking the movement of the train itself and highlighting the dynamism of urban life.
In the teens and twenties, Davis had developed an abstract painting style, largely responding to Cubism. This painting is less abstract, but it maintains Cubism’s very modern desire to see multiple views of the same scene simultaneously.