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), House and Street, 1931. Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 42 1/8 in. (66.4 x 107 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 41.3. © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Barbara Haskell: Stuart Davis in House and Street is presenting two simultaneous views of the same scene, the intersection between Front Street and Coenties Slip.

Mark Joshua Epstein: Stuart Davis gives us two distinct zones in this painting, but he’s really careful to put them inside these very obvious borders. We get the black border, and then outside of the black border, the red border with the blue on the left side. To me, that’s his way of saying, “This is the city. We encounter these things together all of the time. And I as an artist want to contain them all in one picture plane.” So on the left we have something that’s right in front of us, something we would walk by on the street, a fire escape that we can see right up close, and on the right side we have something else in the distance that’s a little more elusive. We don’t exactly know what’s around that curve, or what’s in that gridded building in the back.

Barbara Haskell: In this piece, Davis is presenting his idea that the experience of modernity has to do with simultaneity. And that we're bombarded by images and see multiple images all of the time. Davis returned from Paris in 1929 and was originally horrified by the enormity of New York. He said, "How can anyone make art in the face of this enormous city?" And then as he become more acclimated, he came to see that that, in fact, was the quality of modernity, that speed and simultaneity that were exactly what characterized modern urban life. He embraced that notion.

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