The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is pleased to announce the exhibition Swing Landscape: Stuart Davis and the Modernist Mural, open February 5 through May 22, 2022, in the Featured Exhibition Gallery. Curated by the Eskenazi Museum's Curator of European and American Art, Jenny McComas, the exhibition centers on Swing Landscape, the 1938 mural by American modernist painter Stuart Davis and a highlight of the museum's permanent collection.
Considered by many art historians to be one of the most important American paintings of the twentieth century, Swing Landscape is also one of the first abstract murals of that century. Yet the painting has received surprisingly little focused scholarly attention until now. Commissioned through the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration, the mural was originally slated for installation in the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn, New York. Ultimately rejected from this site, it instead came to Indiana University in early 1942.
Featuring more than forty works of art by Davis and his contemporaries, as well as original archival documentation, Swing Landscape: Stuart Davis and the Modernist Mural will offer a comprehensive examination of this modernist masterpiece. The exhibition will present new insights into Swing Landscape's aesthetic, political, and social significance and will situate it within the broader context of abstract murals from the Depression era. Lenders to the exhibition include the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The accompanying catalogue, co-published with Yale University Press, features essays by Jenny McComas, and Jody Patterson, Associate Professor and Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Chair of Art History at Ohio State University.
"Scholars have long argued that Stuart Davis stringently separated his political and artistic interests and activities. The overriding goal of this exhibition is to argue that Swing Landscape, despite its abstract aesthetic, embodies Davis's socially and politically progressive values and to show that resituating the mural in its original context—as a commission for a public housing project—is a key to understanding its multivalent meanings," commented Curator of European and American Art, Jenny McComas.
David Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley Director of the Eskenazi Museum of Art, stated, "Swing Landscape is an iconic work of twentieth-century modernism that has long been a highlight of our collection. We are excited to give this important work the attention it deserves and provide new insight into the relevance of Davis's work to contemporary issues."
The exhibition is supported by Indiana University's New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities Program, the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Terra Foundation for American Art, Susan Thrasher, David Jacobs, Ann Sanderson, and Paula Sunderman. Support for the catalogue was provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Research for this exhibition was supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.