Tag Archives: WPA Mural

Today’s Wall Street Journal: Stuart Davis and Gloucester – masterpiece art and to this day a fishing port

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Bill Agee is an art historian and esteemed professor at Hunter. He completed the acclaimed Davis catalogue raissone (Yale University Press, 1991). His most recent book is Modern Art in America. Here he is on Stuart Davis (1892-1964) and Gloucester in today’s Wall Street Journal.

“Swing Landscape (1938)  is surely one of the greatest paintings of modern American art, a glorious summation of all Davis had been and was still to be. Swing Landscape, one of nine Davis mural projects was commissioned by the WPA. It was intended for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn. But for reasons still unclear it was never installed, and in 1942 it was acquired by the Indiana University Art Museum, in Bloomington. Because of its intended location, over the years the mural has been misread as based on views of that bustling borough.

Rather, it depicts the boats, docks, houses and landscape of Gloucester, Mass., to this day a fishing port. Davis had spent summers there since 1915, and the subject was the culmination of a favorite motif that had appeared frequently in his art since at least 1924. Davis could be contrarian–for example suggesting a painting was about one thing when it was really about something else–and  here he turns these picturesque vistas, the subject of so much tourist art, into a serious, complex and ambitious mural. “

I wish this Agee excerpt was published prior to the September 25th closing of the Whitney Museum show, Stuart Davis in Full Swing. Back in June, WSJ published a couple of reviews including one by Karen Wilkin.

From the Whitney exhibit:

Using sketches he made of the waterfront in Gloucester, Massachusetts, he transformed masts, rigging, lobster traps, ladders, and striped poles into a vocabulary of overlapping, brightly colored shapes, all of equal intensity. To Davis, the result portrayed the “new materials, new spaces, new speeds, new time relations, new lights, and new colors” of modern America.

James Wechsler describes Davis subjects as triple distilled.

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Recent William Agee book

City Hall Mural ID Help

Hey Joey,
Tim Moran here.  I am the one who posted all of the pictures of the “Magnolia Kids” reunion last September.
http://themorans.org/themorans/Magnolia/Magnolia.htm
Regarding the restored murals in the City Hall, specifically the one where there is a group of men gathered around a conference table in a meeting.
My sisters, Marcia, Sunny, and I are wondering if the man with the gavel at the head of the table might be ouir grandfather Wilfred H Ringer.  Wilfred H Ringer was the principal of Gloucester High through much of the 30s.
Here are a crop from the mural and a picture of our grandfather.

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WPA Mural At The Gloucester Visitors Welcoming Center At Stage Fort Park

Currently this WPA mural is hung in the Gloucester Visitors Welcoming Center.   NOAA is interested in it and it is currently hung improperly for such a valuable piece.  There is simple window framing holding it up and it is tearing along seams where nails are holding up the heavy canvas.  They couldn’t figure out who the artist was.  I wonder if Susan Erony who did the lecture series on the WPA Murals around Gloucester knows. Video at 2PM.