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Stuart Davis

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Stuart Davis
20th century
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1892 - 1964, New York, New York)

Born 1892, Philadelphia; active 1909–64, New York (with summers 1915–34 in Gloucester, MA, and trips in 1923 to New Mexico and 1928 to Paris); died 1964, New York. Studied art with Robert Henri in NY and was a WPA artist. Two encounters radically shaped Stuart Davis’ ideas about art making: the progressive teachings of the painter Robert Henri and the 1913 Armory Show, an exhibition that introduced European avant-garde art to the United States. From these experiences he developed an acute sensitivity to his surroundings as well as a profound interest in the abstract potential of color and form. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Davis experimented with a variety of modern European styles, including Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism, yet he never completely adopted any of these styles. Instead he forged his own artistic approach deeply rooted in the American environment. In the 1940s, his paintings became increasingly abstract, and, beginning in the 1950s until his death in 1964, he returned almost exclusively to his earlier compositions for the subject of his pictures. Although Stuart Davis is best known for his later, more abstract and vibrantly colored paintings, he always considered himself a “realist” and struggled to make art that combined both a social and aesthetic perspective.

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