Stuart Davis: In Full Swing

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide features commentary about selected works in the exhibition Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, especially for kids.


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: Here’s a trick question: can you find the center of this painting? The middle of the painting is a black bar, which cuts the composition in half. But does that really seem like the center of attention? Stuart Davis wanted the focal point of this composition to be everywhere—and nowhere. He wanted every shape to grab our attention, and for our eye to move all over the composition. As you might imagine, Davis had a hard time with this—he worked on the painting for six years! A few years later, he explained.

Stuart Davis: I was learning things and doing things that I hadn’t done before. I don’t ever 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.

Narrator: One clue that Davis overcame his difficulties with this painting is the title—The Mellow Pad. This is an old musical slang term—it means the sweet spot that really great music can get you to. As a painter, Davis probably hoped you could get to that sweet spot from looking at art, too.