Morris Davidson’s career as a painter spanned the decades in which American artists experimented with a wide variety of artistic expression, from social realism to abstraction. Davidson (1899-1979) followed these trends in his own work as he studied art in Baltimore, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with painters in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and eventually in Paris.
In an oral history conducted with Davidson by the Archives of American Art in 1971, the artist described the decisive impact that Cubism and other modernist movements had on his thinking and painting. Along with many other mid-century artists, Davidson, in the course of his career, moved away from the depiction of identifiable landscapes or cityscapes and towards a greater degree of abstraction. The mature works of this post-war period will be highlighted in the exhibition and catalogue. Thanks to a loan from a private collection that spans the entirety of Davidson’s career, this exhibition presents a body of evidence that has allowed the student curators to be the first to reconstruct Davidson’s development as a painter, and demonstrating that his move from a social realist idiom in his early work to abstraction by mid-century was informed by his contact with some of the foremost painters of his day.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, American Modernism at Mid-Century: The Work of Morris Davidson, presents the first scholarly consideration of Morris Davidson (1898–1979), an influential painter and educator whose work has been neglected in the art history of mid-twentieth-century American painting. Davidson studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, with painters in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and eventually in Paris. He became a leader in the cause of abstract painting through his teaching in New York City and Provincetown, his influential books―Understanding Modern Art (1931) and An Approach to Modern Painting (1948)―and his own widely exhibited work. Includes twenty-five exemplary works to illuminate his varied production.