Through September 25, 2016
Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, NYC
For information call 212.570.3600 or visit

Stuart Davis (1892–1964)
Percolator, 1927
Oil on canvas, 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1956 © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Stuart Davis (1892–1964)
Owh! in San Pao, 1951
Oil on canvas, 52-3/16 x 42 in. (132.6 × 106.7 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 52.2 © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Stuart Davis has been called one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century and the best American artist of his generation,” notes exhibition co-organizer and Whitney curator Barbara Haskell. “Faced with the choice early in his career between realism and abstraction,”  she adds, “he invented a vocabulary that harnessed the grammar of abstraction to the speed and simultaneity of modern America.”

Stuart Davis: In Full Swing features approximately 100 artworks by an artist whose formal brilliance and complexity captured the energy and ebullience of popular culture and modern life. The exhibition is unusual in its focus on Davis’ mature work, from his paintings of consumer products of the early 1920s to the work left on his easel at his death in 1964, and in exploring Davis’ habit of using preexisting motifs as springboards for new compositions. Notes Haskell, “By merging the bold, hard-edged style of advertising with the conventions of avant-garde painting, he created an art endowed with the dynamic rhythms that he saw as uniquely modern and American…and exuding the spirit of popular culture.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1892, Davis trained with Robert Henri, a leading proponent of Ashcan realism. Inspired by the 1913 Armory Show, Davis studied the work of European modernists and became a leader of America’s avant-garde movement. His work in abstraction continued into the 1950s when he became a dominant force in postwar art. During his career, Davis enjoyed a close relationship with the Whitney that began with the patronage of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1927. The museum owns twenty-seven of his works.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which travels to the National Gallery of Art in November 2016; a full schedule through January 2018 can be viewed at


This Highlight was originally included in the Autumn 2016 issue of Antiques & Fine Art magazine, a fully digitized version of which is available on AFA is affiliated with Incollect.