Stuart Davis (Library of American Art)

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9780810932197: Stuart Davis (Library of American Art)
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In a way that was unusual for an artist of his time, Stuart Davis (1892-1964) took his inspiration not only from modern European painting but also from American popular culture. Davis, like other American artists in the early decades of the century, was deeply affected by his encounter with the remarkable accomplishments of the European avant-garde, which were revealed to the Americans at the landmark Armory Show of 1913 in New York. Drawn first to the color of the Post-Impressionists and then to the flattened, abstracted forms of the Cubists, Davis decided to pursue a modernist style of his own, a resolve that was strengthened by a sojourn Paris in the late 1920s.
Yet in addition to these European sources, Davis was much influenced by African-American jazz. Indeed, some of the most notable features of his art were conceived as visual equivalents to the music and the language he first heard at jazz clubs in New York and New Jersey as a very young man, and which remained avid interests throughout his life.
This book is the first study to take fully into account Davis's formative response to black American music - how it reshaped his understanding of what art could be and altered his personal "take" on European modernism. It also offers a detailed account of Davis's political activities in the numerous artists' associations he joined during the Depression era. Shedding new light on the artist's career and on his conception of painting, this study is essential not only for admirers of Davis's work but for anyone interested in the social currents that helped define America's visual culture during the almost fifty-year span of his career.

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Review:

Stuart Davis was an American painter whose modern work made use of influences from Picasso to Miro to van Gogh, while mirroring the snappy rhythms of swinging jazz. Patricia Hills, a professor of art history at Boston University, celebrates Davis' work in this straightforward chronicle of his 50-year career. More than just an artist, Davis engaged himself in the politics of socialism and the urban aesthetic. While Hills focuses on his artistic achievements, she shows how Davis' contributions in the political arena impacted his work and his community.

About the Author:

Patricia Hills is Professor of Art History at Boston University.

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