to-Wear | The Art Institute of Chicago




Stuart Davis (American, 1892–1964)

About this artwork

Stuart Davis was acquainted from an early age with John Sloan and Robert Henri, leaders of the so-called Ashcan School, a group of artists committed to depicting all aspects of modern urban life. Davis studied at Henri’s New York school, but he eventually came to disagree with his teacher’s belief in the preeminence of content over composition and form; instead, he created a style in which he generalized and abstracted his shapes and the spaces between them.

Nonetheless, Davis’s art is never totally abstract. Twentieth-century America is reflected in the shapes and colors he chose and in the sheer vitality of his compositions. His style—big, bright, bold, and clear—is completely appropriate to his subject matter. Forms have been reduced to large colored planes; words or numbers are simplified and offered as elements of design. In Ready-to-Wear, the bright, unmixed colors recall those of the French artist Fernand Léger. The way in which they intersect and interrupt one another, however, conveys a mood that is distinctly American: energetic, jazzy, mass produced—all qualities summed up in the title. The planes, reminiscent of overlapping pasted-down paper cutouts, even suggest the garment patterns from which ready-to-wear clothes are assembled.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Americas


Stuart Davis




United States (Artist’s nationality:)


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Oil on canvas


Signed l. right: Stuart Davis


142.6 × 106.7 cm (56 1/8 × 42 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund W. Kunstadter; Goodman Endowment

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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