Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Paintings I Like, pt. 29

Stuart Davis, Arboretum by Flashbulb, 1942. Oil on canvas, 18" x 36."

Canonical stature is an ever-shifting affair, and I'm rooting for Stuart Davis to eventually get the historical respect that he deserves. Yes, he's in the Metropolitan in New York, but go look at the drop-ceiling and smell the damp-carpet in the room in which this painting hangs (along with several other top-shelf Davis canvases). I mean, come on.

He was post-cubist, pre-pop, proto-op, proto-cool; he knew a lot about color and understood jazz - legend has it that he swapped painting lessons for drum lessons with early Chicago jazz great George Wettling.

And Wettling must have been a pretty good instructor. Look at the opposing rhythms in the picture: the close valued, high-saturation hues hum and vibrate, while the blacks and whites make snappy, contrapuntal accents - analogous to the way the bass and snare drum are used in small group jazz.