I am more than grateful for these thoughts from Vered Lieb about my essay on Stuart Davis. Upon her request I am posting them here as a letter to the editor:
I did not want to let your last essay go by without letting you know how right I believe you are about the many facets you touch upon while reviewing the Stuart Davis show at the Whitney—including the catering to current art market dizziness by curators, rather then the true dictates of good art history.
I do very much like how you have evolved in your writing and therefore your understanding of art history and the fact that you evince the capacity to write about painting as if you painted as well.
That is the highest marks I can give an art critic, that they have become capable of entering the process and experiencing art from a physical standpoint as well as a mental approach.
Stuart Davis was one of my early childhood heroes. My parents had a few books around the house about him (along with many others) and I just gravitated to his work. I also adored Michelangelo, de Kooning and Mondrian, from the same library in my parents home. So that’s pretty eclectic for a little kid.But I always thought of Davis as an abstract artist. Now my mother’s close friends, Ben Shahn and the Soyer brothers, their work I knew was not abstract.
When I grew up I always responded with a smile to any Stuart Davis I saw. I still do. It cannot be that Mr. Davis never experienced any sadness or suffering in his life because we all are too aware that the human condition is the same for all. And there is an interesting contrast with Edward Hopper who was painting at pretty much the same time. Rather I think that Davis must have made a decision to paint, as de Kooning once said about the place from where his art stems, from “joy.”
I applaud you for not seeing him as the father of Pop art, but rather (as I see him) within the continuum ofa very American Abstract Expressionist movement. He really knew how to put that paint down on a canvas and though his strokes are not de Koonings or Pollocks, they are strokes and a way of application that is his. His sense of cubistic space was spot on and he never lets you down with his composition. His use of words is about as literal as de Kooning’s use ofembedding newspaper or Motherwell’s use of French cigarette wrappers. Neither of those two artists would be hailed as progenitors of the Pop (Picabia would seem closer for that role.)
I do think that it is important to praise and affirm the one voice that will give the lie to the passive acceptance of revisionism. Thank you once again for being that voice!