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Screen print on canvas laminated to board (one of a series of six screen prints comprising the “Series 1” portfolio).
30 x 20 in. / 76 x 51 cm
Signed by the artist verso in pen. Edition 150. Published by Petersburg Press.
Vertical stripes, the artist’s trademark, run perfectly even and parallel down the sheet in ultramarine, light blue, black, purple, lime green, yellow, orange, pink, and periwinkle. It is within this deceptively simple format that Davis has produced countless variations, equal parts whimsical and thoughtful. Here, blue stripes form an orderly sequence proceeding from the left, representing the “winding up” of the titular Jack in the Box. The toy’s inevitable bursting-forth is represented on the right edge of the composition, in an explosion of bright, fresh colored lines. The artist is able to evoke rhythm, tension, action, even sound, by simply altering the color of the sequence.
The American artist Gene Davis is most well-known for his colorful, striped paintings and prints, but he worked in a variety of formats and media, from neon, to collage, to vibrant public art covering walls and sidewalks. A former sportswriter and journalist, Davis was never formally trained in art, and compared himself to a jazz musician who plays by ear, referring to his style as ‘playing by eye.’ He was inspired by the rhythm and cadence of music, and attempted to capture this quality in his art.
Davis suggested that viewers examine his works closely to gain an understanding of its rhythm and meaning. “Instead of simply glancing at the work, select a specific color—and take the time to see how it operates across the painting.—Enter the painting through the door of a single color, and then you can understand what my painting is all about.”
A copy of this print is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and Kemper Art Museum, Kansas City.