Stuart Davis papers, 1911-1966

Davis, Stuart, b. 1892 d. 1964
Painter
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 3.0 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 7 reels)

Collection Summary: Scrapbooks; a notebook; files on Davis' involvement in many art organizations and as editor of Art Front; letters; photographs; and letters to Davis from his mother Helen Stuart Davis, and material on her work for the WPA.

REELS N584-N586 and N696: 9 scrapbooks containing newspaper clipppings, magazine articles, exhibition notices and catalogs, 1911-1966.

REEL 3842: Notebook, 1920-1922.

REEL N70-12: Ca.85 letters to Davis from his mother, Helen Stuart Davis, 1935-1939, in which she describes her work as a sculptor on the Federal Art Projects in Dade County, Florida and Berkeley, California, detailing administrative difficulties and daily work, and alluding to her son's work with the American Artists' Congress, his influence with Holger Cahill and other federal officials. Also included are her sketchbooks, and ca. 90 photographs of work done by her and others on the FAP in Florida.

REEL 2803: a photocopy of an article, "Abstract Painting Today," by Davis, April 20, 1940, for ART FOR THE MILLIONS, edited by Francis V. O'Connor, and a draft of a letter to Ben Shahn, undated, suggesting that the Downtown Gallery artists provide funds for the opening of another Edith Halpert Gallery.

UNMICROFILMED: Files on American Artists' Congress and other artists' organizations in which Davis was active, including: American Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, Artist Committee of Action, Artists Coordination Committee, Fine Arts Federation of New York, and the League of American Writers. Files contain correspondence, mostly letters from numerous artists writing in praise of Pablo Piccasso's statement against the facist dictatorship in Spain, and Davis' letter to Picasso inviting him to speak at the 2nd annual American Artists' Congress, minutes of meetings, membership rosters, press releases, and newsletters. Drafts and final copies of writings, and printed material regarding the Federal Arts Projects, Federal Arts Bill, and the 1939 New York World's Fair are also included. A small series of papers kept while editor of ART FRONT includes correspondence between Davis and contributors, including Jerome Klein, Katherine Schmidt and George Biddle; memos and notes on agendas and minutes for meetings, story assignment sheets, and important issues; editorial writings, including an answer to Forbes Watson regarding the American Artists' Congress, and to Duncan Phillips regarding the issue of a "rental policy"; and an editorial by George Biddle regarding the artists' boycott of the 1936 Olympic Games.

Biographical/Historical Note: Painter; New York, N.Y. Work primarily abstract. Exhibited at age nineteen in the Armory Show. Went to France for one year, 1928; worked for WPA; active in many art organizations.

The scrapbooks were lent for microfilming 1967 by Davis' widow, and are in the possession of Earl Davis, Stuart Davis' son. The notebook was microfilmed by Robert Hunter while in the possession of Wyatt Davis, brother of Stuart. Upon the death of Wyatt Davis, the notebook was sold by his son to an art dealer and eventually turned up at the Pierpont Morgan Library. (The microfilm of the notebook was shot out-of-doors in natural light, and is consequently of very poor quality, with large portions illegible.) The unmicrofilmed papers were donated by Earl Davis, 1984-1988.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels N584-N586, N696, and 2803 available in Archives of American Art offices and through Interlibrary Loan Service.
    microfilm reel 3842 available for use only at Archives of American Art offices. Not available through interlibrary loan, at the De Young American Art Center, Boston Public Library, or the Amon Carter Library and Archives.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information. Unmicrofilmed material ACCESS RESTRICTED; written permission required.
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Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Stuart Davis papers also located at: Fogg Museum, Harvard University and Pierpont Morgan Library.