Stuart Davis: In Full Swing

Solo en Inglès

Hear commentary by Curator Barbara Haskell who organized this exhibition with Harry Cooper from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Assistant Curator Sarah Humphreville, along with the jazz pianist Ben Sidran and archival interviews with Stuart Davis himself. 

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), The Mellow Pad, 1945–51. Oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 42 1/8 in. (66.7 x 107 cm). Brooklyn Museum; bequest of Edith and Milton Lowenthal 1992.11.6. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Narrator: Stuart Davis worked on The Mellow Pad for six years.

Stuart Davis: I was learning things and doing things that I hadn’t done before. I don’t like to use the word “trouble,” but if you want to be factual, I did have trouble with it. But the main point about it is that I kept at it until all the trouble had disappeared.

Sarah Humphreville: He’s treating each individual shape as an individual. You don't see as many repeated colors weaving in and out. Everything is just right on the surface and humming.

Narrator: Sarah Humphreville is a Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney. 

Sarah Humphreville: He had this idea of serial centers, that there wouldn't be one center focus as in a typical painting but instead these serials of centers. So when you're looking at it, your eye really has that vibrating—it's almost chaotic to look at. You don't really know where to pause or how to understand it.

And this is a radical breakthrough in not just American art but in painting as a whole, it's really not until 1947 when Pollock was doing his drip paintings that you get this kind of bam in your face. This is everything all at once.