"Stuart Davis: The Imitation Game"
Stuart Davis (1892-1964) was an American painter who fused the lessons of French modernism with the rhythms of jazz, the language of advertising, and the look of American urban life to develop a remarkably personal vision that still has great resonance for painters today. And yet, despite the originality of this achievement, Davis's working method from 1940 on involved a seemingly endless, nearly obsessive editing and revising of his own previous works. How can we understand this paradox, and what does it have to do with the imitation of others (George Bellows, Robert Henri, Vincent van Gogh, the Cubists, etc.) that characterized the earlier years of his career More broadly, how do we square the notions of emulation and originality at the heart modernism?
Harry Cooper became curator and head of modern and contemporary art at the National Gallery of Art in 2008, where he is currently organizing an exhibition of the work of Stuart Davis. Previously he served as modern art curator at the Harvard Art Museums, where he organized exhibitions of the work of Piet Mondrian, Frank Stella, Medardo Rosso, and others. He has taught in the art history departments at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia, and has published on such artists (in addition to those mentioned) as Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Pierre Soulages, Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, and Ed Ruscha.
Sponsored by the Cantor Arts Center Membership Executive Council