Stuart Davis American, 1892–1964
Stuart Davis (December 7, 1892–June 24, 1964), was an early American modernist painter. He was well known for his jazz-influenced, proto pop art paintings of the 1940s and 1950s, bold, brash, and colorful, as well as his Ashcan School pictures in the early years of the 20th century. With the belief that his work could influence the sociopolitical environment of America, Davis’ political message was apparent in all of his pieces from the most abstract to the clearest. Contrary to most modernist artists, Davis was aware of his political objectives and allegiances and did not waver in loyalty via artwork during the course of his career. By the 1930s, Davis was already a famous American painter, but that did not save him from feeling the negative affects of the Great Depression. No one was exempt from the effects of the Great Depression and led to Stuart Davis being one of the first artists to apply for the Federal Art Project. Under the project, Davis created some seemingly Marxist works; however, Davis was too much of an independent person and thinker to fully support Marxist ideals and philosophies. Despite several works that appear to be nondemocratic or push Marxist views, Davis’ roots in American optimism is apparent throughout his lifetime.
Originally a magazine illustrator, Davis seriously turned to painting after viewing the Armory Show of 1913. His works featured banal images (a cigarette packet, signs, notices), altered with strong colors and words in script, suggesting the rhythm of an urban environment suffused with jazz
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