Lawn and Sky
47.3 cm x 57.5 cm (18 5/8 in. x 22 5/8 in.)
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1892 - 1964, New York, New York)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991
Stuart Davis frequently thought of his compositions in relation to jazz, which he considered the musical counterpart to abstract art. This is evident in "Lawn and Sky," in which Davis superimposed several views of his summer retreat in Gloucester, Massachusetts, within a single composition. The work hints at musicality in colorful symbols scattered throughout the picture: a pink squiggle resembles a bass clef, egg-like spheres appear like a two-note chord, and the red infinity symbol, or gruppetto, indicates a sequence of notes that boomerang up and down before returning to their principal note. Artist Robert Henri, who mentored Davis and who is also represented in the Blanton’s collection, encouraged his students to pursue spontaneity in their work. As in jazz, Davis’s decisions regarding the composition of "Lawn and Sky" are both harmonious and spontaneous, generating a visual rhythm.