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), Fin, 1962–64. Casein and masking tape on canvas, 53 7/8 x 39 3/4 in. (136.8 x 101 cm). Private collection. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Barbara Haskell: Fin is the most personal of Davis's paintings. For one thing, it's unfinished. It shows his working method where he would use masking tape to define certain areas of the picture, while he studied them in the course of working out their composition and their color. The masking tape remains on in this picture, giving it a sense of the tactility, the intimacy that other pictures don't have.

He was working on it one night. He had had had a series of heart troubles. He and his wife saw a French film on television that night which ended with the word, "Fin," meaning, "The End." He painted the word on his canvas that evening before going to bed and died that night.

By 1962, when Davis began this picture, he was being heralded as a major figure of modern art. Artists like Don Judd, for example, were celebrating his achievements. He was beginning to be considered a father of pop art and of geometric color abstraction. These bold areas of color that so defined his work were being executed by younger artists. He was in the forefront of contemporary currents in art.

Narrator: This is the last stop on our tour. Thank you for joining us. Please enjoy the rest of your visit at the Museum.


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