Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“For any artist to persevere, they must have an enthusiastic audience of at least one…”
– Stuart Davis
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Stuart Davis (1892–1964) was born in Philadelphia. His father was the art editor for the Philadelphia Press and encouraged his young son’s talent. Davis studied art with Robert Henri in New York, and his new friends included members of “The Eight”, such as John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and William Glackens. The novice artist thrived in the relaxed atmosphere of Henri’s studio, where academic rules meant less than individual expression. Together with his fellow students, he roamed the streets of New York, discovering the raucous side of Chinatown, the Bowery, and the various haunts of Broadway as sources of stimulation. His early paintings were broadly brushed city scenes. His style was turned in another direction, however, by the Armory Show of 1913, which began his conversion to Modernism.
In the 1950s, Davis simplified his earlier semi-abstract style. In looking at ordinary objects, he saw their lines, planes, and shapes crossing in an endless succession of geometric patterns. These he painted with bold, splashing colors, striking a balance between recognizable images and complete abstraction. Davis gave Modernism a distinctively American feeling through his rendering of urban landscape, commercial signs and jazz music which he interpreted with bold color in abstract design.