Barbara Haskell: One of the things people have always loved about Stuart Davis is his sense of America, that he really believed that artists should look to the local environment for inspiration. 

Narrator: Curator Barbara Haskell organized this exhibition with Harry Cooper from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Assistant Curator Sarah Humphreville. You’ll be hearing from them on this audio guide too—along with the jazz pianist Ben Sidran and archival interviews with Davis himself. 

We’ll begin in the gallery straight ahead. Go on in, and take a look around. Davis made these paintings during the 1920s and early thirties, while living in New York. They’re all quite abstract. By the time he painted them, Davis had been experimenting with modernism—and especially Cubism—for about a decade. But he made modernist abstraction his own, using it to capture the excitement of popular culture. He often chose distinctly American subjects. For example, he made a series focused on packages of cigarettes—which at the time were considered a quintessentially American product. We’ll begin our tour with one of those paintings. It has a newspaper in the background. 

More Audio Guides

Laura Owens audio guide
Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World audio guide
Toyin Ojih Odutola audio guide
An Incomplete History of Protest audio guide
An Incomplete History of Protest audio guide
Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium audio guide