Stuart Davis' preliminary study for his History of Communications mural features illustrations related to methods of communication, including speech, text, film, television, and radio. Commissioned for the 1939 World's Fair, Davis blanketed his composition with objects strewn all over and overlapping and drawn in black bold lines on a white background. None of these singular images stand above the other in size, value, or position. Charting the progression of communication in America, in the lower right the images include letters, a male messenger, sign language for writing, a large hand, in the center a phonograph, telephone wires, a mailed letter, and on the left newspaper, a microphone, television camera, and a roll of film.
Davis wrote over twenty pages of theoretical notations regarding the imagery of the mural. "My purpose is to make a work of Art, made of spatial elements associated with Communications [...] to be simple and easy to remember. Its tone-element is limited to white on black." According to his notations, the range of subjects organized across the mural included speech and language, writing and printing, drawing and painting, camera and motion picture, television and the telegraph, song and music, telephone and the radio, and the phonograph.
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Weber, Bruce. Stuart Davis' New York, 68. West Palm Beach, FL: Norton Gallery & School of Art, 1985.
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