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Stuart Davis (1892–1964) ranks as a preeminent figure in American modern art, with a career that stretched from the early twentieth century well into the early 1960s. Over the course of his sixty-year career, Davis invented an artistic vocabulary of bold colors and strong forms, informed by his enthusiasm for jazz. Born in Philadelphia, Davis began as an illustrator of the urban life around New York, and after a year in Paris become one of the first American artists to bring the lessons of French avant garde art into American painting. He combined text and image, and blurred distinctions between high and low art, and abstraction and figuration, ultimately forging a union of international Modernism and uniquely American imagery that continues to influence art being made today.
This major retrospective will focus on three phases of Davis’s work: from 1927 to 1937, in which he applied the forms of Cubism to still-lifes and landscapes; from 1938 to 1943, during which his work increased in both size and abstraction; and from 1944 to Davis’s death in 1964, in which he invented a new abstract language that merged the aesthetics of advertising and jazz with language, and an American-inspired subject matter.