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Stuart Davis: In Full Swing features nearly 100 artworks by an artist whose formal brilliance and complexity captured the energy of mass culture and modern life. The exhibition is unusual in its focus on Davis’s mature work, from his paintings of consumer products of the early 1920s to the work left on his easel at his death in 1964, and in exploring Davis’s habit of
using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions. The exhibition departs in significant ways from earlier presentations of the artist’s work. The exhibition omits Davis’s decade of apprenticeship to European modernism (following his introduction to it at the 1913 Armory Show) in favor of the series of breakthroughs he made beginning in 1921 with his paintings of tobacco packages and household products, and continuing into his last two decades in which he employed abstract shapes, brilliant color, and words to evoke the ebullience of popular culture.
“Stuart Davis has been called one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century and the best American artist of his generation, his art hailed as a precursor of the rival styles of pop and geometric color abstraction,” remarks Barbara Haskell. “Faced with the choice early in his career between realism and pure abstraction, he invented a vocabulary that harnessed the grammar of abstraction to the speed and simultaneity of modern America. By merging the bold, hard-edged style of advertising with the conventions of avant-garde painting, he created an art endowed with the vitality and dynamic rhythms that he saw as uniquely modern and American. In the process, Davis achieved a rare synthesis: an art that is resolutely abstract yet at the same time exudes the spirit of popular culture.”
Co-organized by the #whitneymuseum of American Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the exhibition will be on view at the Whitney from June 10 through September 25, 2016, and at the National Gallery of Art from November 20, 2016 through March 5, 2017. It will subsequently travel to the De Young Museum in San Francisco from April 8 through August 6, 2017, and to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, from September 16, 2017 through January 8, 2018.
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing
June 10–Sept 25, 2016
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