ADAMWEINBERG: Distinguished Air is a short story by Robert McAlmon. Richard Meyer explains that the watercolor depicts an imagined scene from the story.
RICHARDMEYER: So, the narrator of the story Distinguished Air, a young attractive woman named Marjorie, is living in Berlin, and she becomes close friends with Foster Graham, who is the protagonist. And he’s the man that you see in Demuth’s version wearing a top hat and holding a cane, and sort of craning his neck slightly to try to get a better view of the sailors from behind. But here early in the story, the narrator, Marjorie, asks Graham if he wants to go to a gallery. Now I’m quoting the story: “’I’m just heading for Der Sturm to see what new has been hung in the exhibition rooms there. Do you want to come along? Some of the paintings are apt to be as frenzied as you are and it’ll pass away an hour.’” His response: “‘Goodness me, Marjorie, I just love art. I love art,’ Foster minced, unable to be direct for over a moment. ‘Will there be some pretty pictures of naked boys? I just love art. It’s too exquisite. So glad you asked me along.’”
ADAMWEINBERG: They never do make it to the gallery. But it seems likely, judging from Graham’s response, that if they had, he would have behaved very much as Demuth imagines.