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Egg Beater No. 4

Stuart Davis ( 1928 )

On View

Collection item 0470
  • Location House (1600) - Display, Gallery C
  • Period Twentieth-Century
  • Materials Oil on canvas
  • Object Number 0470
  • Dimensions 27 1/8 x 38 1/4 in.; 68.8975 x 97.155 cm.; Framed: 28 7/8 in x 39 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in; 73.34 cm x 101.28 cm x 4.76 cm
  • Credit Line Acquired 1939; Art © Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Egg Beater No. 4 is the final work in Davis’s noted Egg Beater series of 1927–28, in which he achieved an original abstract style. He had been exploring abstraction as early as 1913, when he admired the works of Cézanne, Léger, and Picasso at the Armory Show. Davis purposely chose unrelated objects—eggbeater, electric fan, and rubber glove—so that he could concentrate on relationships of color, shape, and space. He spoke of visualizing these elements in relation to each other, within a larger system that unified them in the space and on the picture plane.

Davis’s Egg Beater compositions became progressively more two-dimensional and well integrated. In earlier works depth is suggested by forms that either float within undefined space or are placed firmly in an interior. In Egg Beater No. 4 the space is more ambiguous. The shapes overlap, giving an impression of collage, and they are interlocked onto the flat surface of the painting. Yet the composition also suggests a spatial dimension, giving the impression of both interior and exterior spaces. For example, the angled line on the left of Egg Beater No. 4 may be interpreted as the edge of the studio wall, while the white lines against the dark background along the top edge of the painting resemble building tops against the night sky. Here the artist suggests both a domestic setting and at the same time, a larger view of the city. These interplays of inside-outside, surface, and depth are complimented by the lively contrasts of color: light and dark, vivid and pale, all working together to create a variety of rhythms reminiscent of jazz music.