Author(s): Barbara Haskell
Beginning in 1921, a series of creative breakthroughs ledDavis away from figurative painting and toward a moreabstract expression of the world he inhabited. Drawing uponhis admiration for the works of Cezanne, Leger and Picasso,Davis developed a style that would over the next four decadesevolve, challenge and influence contemporary art. Davis'svisionary depictions of modern life and culture both highand low remain relevant more than 50 years after his death.Focusing on the images and motifs that became a hallmark ofhis career, this book features approximately 100 works-fromhis paintings of early 1920s tobacco packages, the abstractEgg Beater series and the WPA mural works from the 1930s,to the majestic works of his last two decades. The authors takea critical approach to the indelible influence Davis had uponcontemporary art and the traceable impact his earlier workhad upon his later masterpieces.They also offer importantbiographical perspectives and discuss Davis's unique abilityto assimilate into his art not only the lessons of Cubism,modernism and abstraction, but also the imagery of popularculture, the aesthetics of advertising and the sounds andrhythms of jazz-his great musical passion.
Presenting newlydiscovered primary documents, including photographs andexcerpts from the artist's writings, the detailed chronologyis, in effect, the first-ever Davis biography. Together, theseelements create a vital portrait of an artist whose works humwith intelligence and energy.
BARBARA HASKELL is Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NewYork. HARRY COOPER is Curator and Head of the Modern Art Department at theNational Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.