Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
Egg Beater No. 1
Oil on linen
Overall: 29 3/16 × 36 3/16 in. (74.1 × 91.9 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Rights and Reproductions Information
© Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
In 1927, Stuart Davis began work on a series of five paintings based on a still life he had created by nailing an eggbeater, an electric fan, and a rubber glove to a table in his studio. Using this group of incongruous and unlikely items, he created his first truly abstract works. In Egg Beater No. 1, Davis eliminated all recognizable traces of the still life objects, leaving only a complex composition of colors and overlapping geometric shapes whose interlocking planes suggest the influence of Pablo Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism. Like the other paintings in the series, this flat, spare, uncompromising statement is all the more remarkable for its adherence to advanced artistic ideas amid the general retreat from abstraction in America in the late 1920s. Still, Davis never considered himself a pure abstractionist, and would not work again in that vein for more than twenty years, instead interpreting the urban landscape through a bold graphic language of signs, words, and advertisements.