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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Stuart Davis, American (Philadelphia, PA 1892 - 1964 New York, NY)
Stuart Davis Papers
Archival Material
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Various media, including ink, graphite, and colored pencil on tan or brown paper

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mrs. Stuart Davis
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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The Stuart Davis papers comprise approximately 10,000 pages, dating from the 1920s through the early 1960s, including notes on art theory, politics, and social commentary. Included in the papers are c. 1,100 drawings and diagrams. These have received individual accession numbers (1967.79.1-1165).

The collection consists of Davis's notes, largely written on individual sheets of highly acidic paper over a period of over 40 years. The pages have been kept in the order in which they were received, which appears to be roughly chronological (although some sheets are undated). Davis used a variety of writing materials: graphite, ink, ballpoint pen, felt marker, crayon, and colored pencil. Some of the papers are typed, and some include textual diagrams and drawings. The papers chronicle the evolution of the theoretical underpinnings of Davis's art, and address such topics as art theory, politics and social commentary. Also included are lectures, drafts of letters, sketches, diagrams, and studio notes accompanied by detailed studies for over 75 of his gouaches, caseins, and oils, including such major paintings as "Report from Rockport," "Arboretum by Flashbulb," "Ursine Park," "Ultra-Marine," "The Mellow Pad," "Visa," "Rapt at Rappaport's," "American Painting," "Deuce," "Cliché," "Ready-to-Wear," "Pochade," and "Unfinished Business."

The papers are extremely fragile, so the originals are not accessible. Thirty drawings have been matted and can be seen at the Harvard Art Museums. The papers can be seen on microfilm at Houghton Library, Harvard University (*69M-153). The drawings and diagrams have all been digitized and are available on the Harvard Art Museum's Collections Online website ( or Harvard's Visual Image Access (VIA) database (

The drawings and diagrams were catalogued by Mark Rutkoski, co-editor (with Ani Boyajian) of "Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné" (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery/Yale University Press, 2007).

For more information, see the Finding Aid and Index to the Papers:

Permission to quote from the papers may be obtained from the Curator of Archives, Harvard Art Museum.

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