Stuart Davis was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 7, 1894. His father was the art editor of the Philadelphia Press. At the age of 16 Davis began studying art with Robert Henri, leader of "The Eight," a group of artists also known as the "Ashcan school." In the famous 1913 Armory Show, Davis exhibited five watercolors. His works of this period are close to the realistic style of "The Eight," but Davis soon began moving toward the more lively, Fauve manner, visible in Gloucester Street (1916). He experimented with the geometric visual language of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian in his own painting The President (1917) and tried synthetic cubist devices in the more pictorially ordered Lucky Strike (1921). Davis´s trip to New Mexico in 1923 manifested itself in more simply conceived, flatter paintings. The resolution of these earlier abstract tendencies can be found in the Eggbeater Series (1927-1930). In 1928 Davis traveled to Paris. Places des Vosges Number 2 (1928) juxtaposes line and color on a lightly textured surface, showing Davis´s skill at rendering rhythmical equivalents of visual phenomena. During the Great Depression, Davis became art editor of the Artists´ Congress magazine, Art Front. Like many contemporary painters, he executed public murals: Men without Women (1932) at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City; Swing Landscape (1938), now at the University of Indiana; a mural for WNYC radio station in New York City; and the now-destroyed History of Communication (1939) for the New York World´s Fair. Davis´s paintings during his last 2 decades draw on the tradition of Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, yet their content is indigenous to America.
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