Stuart Davis

American (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1892 - 1964, New York City, New York)


painting | oil on canvas
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  • Deuce

    Stuart Davis, Deuce, 1954; oil on canvas, 26 in. x 42 1/4 in. (66.04 cm x 107.32 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Mrs. E. S. Heller; © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Davis's blaring colors, geometric shapes, and bold lines helped capture the quickening pulse of early-twentieth-century America. In the 1920s and 1930s, when most of his contemporaries were still using nineteenth-century techniques, Davis delved into abstraction, appropriating images and rhythms from jazz bars, backstreets, and the industrial clutter of cities.

An early jazz enthusiast, Davis sought to create a style of painting that was as distinctively American as its musical counterpart. As he noted, "Jazz music always plays a part in my inspiration, because I always think of it as art. And I think, well if they can do it, maybe I can too. Only I'm making a painting."

For this work, Davis adapted jazz's combination of careful structure and free improvisation. Inspired by the industrial landscape of the 1950s, the composition of this two-part painting is both fractured and infused with rhythm. The left side suggests an interior scene, while the right side evokes urban architecture or a factory environment. Bright red and blue frame the heavy black outlines.

26 in. x 42 1/4 in. (66.04 cm x 107.32 cm)
Acquired 1955
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Mrs. E. S. Heller
© Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York


abstract, jazz, outlines, bold, red, blue, squares, pairs

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