Art on This Day
Born on this day in 1894, is American Cubist painter, Stuart Davies. Known for his colourful compositions, with internal logic and structure, often camouflaged the American flavor of his themes.
Growing up in an artistic environment, his father was a graphic artist and art editor of a Philadelphia newspaper. At the age of 16, Davis quit high school and studied under Robert Henri, leader of “The Eight”, a group of artists also known as the “Ashcan School”. By 1913, Davis had exhibited five of his watercolours at the Armory show. This was the first large exhibit in the United States of avant-garde European art, which was a turning point in his career. Over the next few years, he strove to achieve the compositional order, nonimitative colour, and shallow picture space characteristic of the new European painting. He began to experiment with collages as well.
In 1928 Davis traveled to France, where he spent a year painting relatively realistic street scenes in Paris. He returned back to the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s, he developed a new style based on the rhythmic contrast between geometric areas of flat colour and objects clearly defined in linear perspective. During these years, Davis was an outspoken opponent of fascism and, in 1938, became the national chairman of the American Artists’ Congress.
Davis's paintings during his last 2 decades (he died in 1964) show continued preoccupation with the lyrical order of visual experience. They draw on the tradition of Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, yet their content is indigenous to America. Hot Still-scape for Six Colors (1940), explosive with color and rhythm; Visa (1951); and The Paris Bit (1959) all integrate the visual feel of words with related color schemes and shapes.
It was during the last years of his life that Davis's work became newly appreciated by yet another generation of artists, who admired Davis's intermingling of advertisements with modern abstraction in a way that plainly articulated the unique character of the nation. His influence can be seen in the bold, graphic paintings of major Pop artists in America and Britain, including Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Wayne Thiebaud's interest in mass-produced objects and the visual language of advertisements also owes a debt to Davis' art.
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