An insightful study of the progressive politics animating a great work of modernist mural painting
In 1936 the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project commissioned Stuart Davis (1892-1964) to paint a mural for the Williamsburg Houses, a New York City housing project. Though the mural, Swing Landscape,
was never installed in its intended location, it survives as an impressive testament to Davis’s energetic, colorful brand of abstraction and the progressive politics that animated it. This study explores the painting, one of the greatest of twentieth-century America and arguably Davis’s most ambitious work.
This book challenges the prevailing tendency to separate Davis’s leftist activism from his art and contextualizes Swing Landscape
within 1930s abstract mural painting in New York, emphasizing the politics of abstraction. The book also offers the first comprehensive look at the Williamsburg mural commission, including works by Willem de Kooning, Ilya Bolotowsky, and others. The result is an indispensable resource on interwar modernism, mural painting, and urban development.