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), Première, 1957. Oil on canvas, 58 x 50 in. (147.3 x 127 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art; museum purchase, Art Museum Council Fund. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Barbara Haskell: Davis based Première on a gouache that he'd made in 1956 in response to a commission by Fortune Magazine to create a painting on the glamour of packaging. He was one of seven artists who was hired by Fortune. He chose to go into a grocery store, bought a package of groceries and laid them all out on his studio and began to work with the images.

What he ended up doing was not creating an image of the packages themselves. He extracted words to stand for the products so that you have in this painting bag, cow, pad, free, any, cat, hundred percent, new, juice. Again, this is very unlike Pop art. A Pop artist might have replicated the product itself. Davis chose to be much more abstract, and in a sense more universal that by taking words, which he believed introduced the human element into pictures, he created something very familiar but at the same time very abstract.