About the Artist
Stuart Davis was an American painter whose European influences, combined with his American sensibilities, made him one of the most important modern painters of the twentieth century.
Early Life and Education
Stuart Davis was born in 1892, to a family that encouraged his talents from an early age. His father, Edward Wyatt Davis, was the art editor of the Philadelphia Press. The illustrators who worked for him at the paper were all members of the Charcoal Club, which was founded by Ashcan painter Robert Henri.
Davis’ mother, Helen Stuart Davis, was a sculptor.
With his parents consent, Davis dropped out of high school in 1909 and moved to New York to study with Henri, who encouraged his students to explore emerging styles of art and music.
Career and Family
Stuart Davis was one of, if not the, youngest artists to exhibit at the 1913 Armory Show. The show itself exposed him to the Cubist and Fauvist works of modern European artists. Davis, in turn, began to create his own unique style of sharp-edged, bold colored patterns and lines, that were uniquely American in style and content.
In 1927, Davis painted the same the objects – an egg beater, an electric fan and a rubber glove – over and over again for a year.
He spent 1928 in France, where he painted cityscapes that combined elements of still life.
When the Depression hit, Davis enrolled in the WPA Federal Art Project. One of his iconic works is Swing Landscape, which was commissioned for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn. The mural depicts the waterfront of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The colors, shapes and style of Swing Landscape, and Davis’ other works, were forerunners of Pop Art and Hard Edge Abstraction.
Davis’ first wife, Bessie Chosak, died in 1932, just three years after they were married. In 1938, Davis married Roselle Springer. Their son, George Earl Davis, was born in 1952.
From 1940 through 1951, Davis taught at at the New School for Social Research. He continued painting and honing his technique throughout his lifetime.
Davis died from a stroke, in New York, in 1964.
The Whitney Museum recently held a retrospective of the works of Stuart Davis, which reflect his optimism about American culture and art. Davis’ works can be found at the Met, MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum, the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, the Smithsonian and other fine collections around the world.
Stuart Davis Lucky Davis 1921
Stuart Davis Egg Beater No. 4 1928
Stuart Davis Swing Landscape 1938
Stuart Davis The Paris Bit 1959