Stuart Davis Silk Screen

This silk screen by Stuart Davis (1892–1964) was originally glued to its mount in three places with an adhesive known as rubber cement, a notoriously troublesome substance that they thankfully no longer use. At a later time, masking tape was used to adhere the work onto its mount. Our restoration plan is to carefully remove the rubber cement and the masking tape; this will remove the damaging foreign objects. Then we will clean and deacidify the print to essentially “disinfect” the work and have it prepared for the replacement stage, when we’ll create our own paper pulp and replace the holes that were caused by the rubber cement. The other main concern is that the original formula for silk screen ink was unstable and is prone to bleeding if too harsh of a cleaning agent is used. Stay tuned for more . . .

Stuart Davis was of the great American artists. Born in Philadelphia, but raised in East Orange, New Jersey, he dropped out of high school to study painting with Robert Henri, a legendary teacher whose approach was audacious, anti-establishment, and focused on each person’s originality. A lover for Walt Whitman’s poetry, Davis hoped to capture “the thing Whitman felt—America.” Another formative influence was the 1913 Armory Show in New York, which introduced him to the expressive colors and forms of modernists like Gauguin, van Gogh, and Matisse. From then on Davis devoted himself to painting, surviving years of poverty, but working widely, embracing “high” and “low” culture, abstraction and realism, image and text. After the mid-1940s, Davis took on the then-dominay style of art, Abstract Expressionism, and produced two of his most important works, full of wit and gaiety, The Mellow Pad and Little Giant Still Life. Local and modern sights: taxis, storefronts, and neon signs, were great inspirations for Davis. Also allowing him to play with dissonant colors and motif-rhythms was his incorporation of jazz theories, but in a visual medium.

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