Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
House and Street
Oil on canvas
Overall: 26 1/8 × 42 1/8 in. (66.4 × 107 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase
Rights and Reproductions Information
Art (c) Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Although photographs from the 1930s reveal that House and Street represents the intersection of Front Street and Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan, complete with a backdrop of tenements and commercial skyscrapers, the painting’s most striking formal feature is the splitting of the intersection into two simultaneous, yet distinct street views—what Stuart Davis referred to as a “mental collage.” Davis was a movie fan, and it seems likely that he structured his composition like frames in a strip of film. House and Street, like many of his cityscapes, incorporates the barrage of signs, words, and lettering that constantly confront urban inhabitants. Along with “Front,” for Front Street, the artist included a bell—the symbol of the telephone company—and the word “Smith,” which may derive from a campaign poster for Alfred E. Smith, the popular governor of New York State who was seeking his party’s nomination in the 1932 presidential race.