This fall, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has come alive with jazz and the bright colors and bold lines of artist Stuart Davis. The exhibition, Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, opened in early September and will continue through Jan. 1, 2018. Admission to Stuart Davis: In Full Swing is $8 for adults or $12 combined with Chihuly: In the Forest. There is no cost for museum members and youth ages 18 and under.
A mixture of realism and abstraction, Davis’ paintings featured colors, shapes, lines, symbols, and words in bold and innovative ways – his expression of the “American Scene.” Davis is a key figure in the development of American modern art and the 86 works on display reveal a style that draws from European Modernists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger to the French avant-garde art. A massive jazz fan, the artist also found influence in the uniquely American music along with the poetry of Walt Whitman, the visuals of advertising imagery and his life in New York City.
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing was co-organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Crystal Bridges is the final venue for this exhibition. Stuart Davis: In Full Swing charts the artist’s development over five decades by opening with a 1912 self-portrait and culminating in his final, unfinished canvas, titled Fin (1962-64). Other works chart his progression has an artist through the years.
“Crystal Bridges’ visitors may be familiar with Stuart Davis, with five works from our permanent collection included in the exhibition,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We’re eager to introduce Davis to new visitors as well as share a deeper presentation of his long and complex career, unique practices, influences, and contributions to American culture.”
Throughout the fall, the museum has hosted jazz-related events such as the Distinguished Speakers Series featuring Jason Moran, the artistic director of jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Hollywood Jazz: Jazz Sing – a three-part series beginning with The Jazz Singer (1927), The Benny Goodman Story (1956), and Lady Sings the Blues (1972). On Dec. 1, the Van Cliburn Concert Series: Masters of Jazz will feature Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the renowned New Orleans-based family of musicians, and 14-year-old prodigy Joey Alexander. More info here.
“Davis was a pivotal figure in American modern art, whose work is remarkable for its breadth and inventiveness,” said Margi Conrads, Crystal Bridges director of curatorial affairs. “Living from the horse and buggy era to the space race, Davis’s art was informed by experiencing most of the significant events of the twentieth century. Davis’s expansive vision and unique approach, informed by his enthusiasm for jazz, helped define American art for his generation and beyond.”
While you are there, be sure to see All or Nothing, on display through May 28, 2018.
Located in the museum’s gallery bridge, this new exhibition, focuses on how artmaking often begins in the simplest way: a black mark on a white sheet of paper or canvas. It features works from Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection, dating from 1860 to today, that play on the different concepts of these colors and the elements such as process, composition, and spatial relationships.
Two new pieces serve as the showpieces of this exhibition: Ellsworth Kelly’s “White and Dark Gray Panels,” (1977) and “Domino Players” (2008) by Willie Birch.
“The reason we view black and white as clashing forces is that they really are opposites of one another, and yet linked by their duality as symbols of all or nothing,” says Crystal Bridges curatorial assistant Dylan Turk. “In pigment, black is the mixture of all colors, while in the light spectrum, black is the absence of all color. All or Nothing persuades us to look at the shared characteristics that connect the works and the artists. At a moment of extreme divisiveness, we want to celebrate the beauty that connects us.”
Photos courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art