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), Rapt at Rappaport’s, 1951–52. Oil on canvas, 52 x 40 in. (131.8 x 101.4 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photograph by Cathy Carver


Narrator: Davis called this painting Rapt at Rappaport’s. It’s based on an earlier work called Landscape with Saw. The saw is barely recognizable, with its red-and-white polka-dotted handle and patterned blade. But as abstract as this painting may appear, it was important to Davis that it, like all his paintings, was rooted in reality. 

Stuart Davis: I have never regarded myself as an abstract artist. Personally I felt that talking about “abstract” art had many dangerous and misleading implications. That it cut off the real fact that what is interesting in any painting is its specific references, which however they may differ with different people that look at the painting, are nevertheless specific. And to call those specific things abstract always worked the wrong way with me. And as to the content of it, I regard the fact that I give importance to simple things that give me pleasure, I think that is the content that has validity with me. 

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