Stuart Davis brings color to the Whitney Museumin a new exhibition focusing on his career path in the early twentieth century. Much of the exhibition emphasized Davis’ work from the post-war period in New York, incorporating many motifs of the time period — such as an upturned champagne glass to represent the end of prohibition — Davis’ work has served as emblematic of the time period. When faced with a choice between realism and abstraction, Davis settled somewhere in the middle: using both hard lines and bold colors to distract the viewer while using popular iconography to connect.
Many of his earlier works, also on display, feature words, phrases, and product named. By the 1950s, Davis incorporated these aspects as independent aspects of his work. This allowed him to breathe energy into his paintings, and to incorporate the popular advertising style of the time as propaganda.
His entire body of work also displays a conversation between individual pieces. It was not unusual for some works to pull inspiration or aspects from others. This form of “appropriation” signifies Davis’ works from other artists of his time. The collection shown at the Whitney includes items from Davis’ entire body of works, including the piece posthumously found on his easel.
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