Art: Growth of an Abstractionist

The exhibition that belatedly introduced Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, Rouault, Braque and Picasso to the U.S. public—Manhattan's Armory Show in 1913 —also inspired a young U.S. artist named Stuart Davis to change his ways. Today Stuart Davis, who looks somewhat like a shy bulldog, is among the few painters to translate Paris abstractionism into a jazzy U.S. idiom.

His first (1913) look at the French moderns, says Davis, "gave me the same excitement I got from the numerical precision of the Negro piano players in the Newark saloons. I resolved that I would quite...

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