Painters: Epitaph in Jazz

"What inspired me most in the area of art and culture in America was jazz music," Stuart Davis once said. It was hot jazz, city jazz, that Davis painted, right up until his death at the age of 69 last week. He was rooted in the American soil, but that soil was concrete. He loathed the country and loved the city, specifically Manhattan, and his abstract but objective works are syncopations of urban life.

To see his paintings is to hear them. They screech and honk with the aggressive dissonance of city traffic. They...

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