Stuart Davis (1892-1964) Color Sketch for Drake University Mural (Study for Allée) No. 2 8 x 35in (Executed in 1954.)

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Lot 48
Stuart Davis
(1892-1964)
Color Sketch for Drake University Mural (Study for Allée) No. 2 8 x 35in

Sold for US$ 87,500 inc. premium

American Art

19 Nov 2018, 16:00 EST

New York

Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
Color Sketch for Drake University Mural (Study for Allée) No. 2
gouache on photostat
8 x 35in
Executed in 1954.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Estate of the above.
    George Earl Davis.
    Babcock Galleries, New York, 2006.
    Richard Rossello, 2008.
    with Questroyal Fine Art, 2013.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2013.

    Exhibited
    New York, Zabriskie Gallery, Stuart Davis Murals: An Exhibition of Related Studies 1932-1957, January 27-February 14, 1976, n.p., no. 11 (as Study for a Mural).
    New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Stuart Davis (1892-1964): Motifs and Versions, November 2-December 27, 1988, n.p., no. 82, pl. 66, illustrated (as Color Sketch for Drake University Mural (Study for "Allée")).

    Literature
    E. Genauer, "Stuart Davis," American Masters: Art Students League, New York, 1967, p. 43, illustrated (as Preliminary Sketch for Drake University Mural).
    D. Ketner, Stuart Davis, New York, 1971, p. 94.
    A. Boyajian and M. Rutkowski, Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. two, New Haven, Connecticut, 2007, p. 682, no. 1291, illustrated.


    Stuart Davis' 1955 Allée, mural for Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, is among the most ambitious and largest works of his career. Measuring an astonishing 92 x 334 inches, it was commissioned by the Gardner and Florence Cowles Foundation and originally installed at the University's Hubbell Dining Hall designed by Eero Saarinen. The importance Davis attached to this work is thoroughly documented in his numerous written calendar notes, the fastidious color studies and the related paintings in which he developed his final conception for the mural.

    Among Davis' color studies for the mural, none are more important than the four complete and to scale 35 inch wide paintings in which he refined the final design and color arrangements for his conception for the mural (see Stuart Davis Catalogue Raisonné nos. 1290, 1291, 1292 and 1293). Each of these paintings, completed in 1954 and 1955, bears witness to the extraordinary technical precision and aesthetic discipline the artist brought to his creation of Allée. Davis knew that this mural and the attendant works were to be among the principal monuments of his career and he devoted himself to their creation.

    Of the four to scale studies Davis executed, Color Sketch for Drake University Mural, 1955 (CR 1293) is in the collection of Drake University. Another, Color Sketch for Drake University Mural No. 1 (CR 1290) is owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. A third one, Scale Study #1 for Allée, 1955 (CR 1292) is privately owned. The present example and forth work, is Color Study for Drake University Mural No. 2, 1954 (CR 1291).

    Davis created the present example at the end of 1954, noting in his calendar entry for December 29 that he, "Executed another full length version of Allée in Red, Blue, Black, and White on Photostat. The Red and Blue are thought of in relation to the White alone (therefore are full intensity) instead of middle position between White and Black as in 1st version." He settled on the "Red, Blue, Black, and White" color selection while visiting the Saarinen designed building on the Drake University campus where he saw the wall upon which the mural was to be installed situated in the midst of three glass walls, a white ceiling and black floor. In that open space Davis looked out of the windows to the blue sky and adjoining red brick campus buildings and was struck by the powerful chromatic presence of the space. With this in mind, he returned to New York to formulate a composition that would embody those color elements, and the energy of campus life he had witnessed, to create one of the iconic monuments of his life.

    Today, only a small handful of major mature period oil paintings by Davis remain in private collections. This important gouache is among the largest of a small group of mature period color works on paper by Davis remaining in private ownership.
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