Stuart Davis (Library of American Art)
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.