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Arthur B. Davies

Written by Brett Nelson

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Posted on February 22 2020

Society at large experienced a lot of tremendous changes between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the people that lived through the turn of the century were often trying to reconcile one set of values with another. These values can certainly include aesthetic values, as was the case with artist Arthur B. Davies. Arthur B. Davies was born in 1862 in Utica, New York, and died in 1928. He is associated with the Ashcan School of artistic techniques, although he set himself apart from the artists of his day in many different ways. The Ashcan school was all about capturing urban decay and the struggles of the poor, as a direct reaction to the strangely idealized world that is often depicted in paintings. Many of Arthur B. Davies's paintings also seem to depict an idealized world.

The art education of Arthur B. Davies will seem fairly familiar to a lot of art students, especially compared to the old-fashioned art education of many other famous historical artists. In 1878, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1887, he moved on to perfect his craft more at New York's Art Students League. Arthur B. Davies had much more formal education than many artists in history, and his entrance into the art world helped signal the changes in art education that were happening all around the world.

He had an education that helped him become an eclectic artist skilled in sculpture, painting, tapestry design, printmaking, and illustration. However, the paintings of Arthur B. Davies are more well-known today than many of his other works. Many of his paintings have an almost ethereal feel to them, making them seem almost like delicate fantasy illustrations. His paintings indicate that Arthur B. Davies was something of a dreamer, although he clearly also had a strongly intellectual approach to art.

The work of many artists is characterized by the way in which it was affected by the creations of earlier artists or contemporary artists. In the case of Arthur B. Davies, his work seems to have partly been a reaction to the artistic styles that were popular in his lifetime. A lot of his work is extremely individualistic, which does indeed embody an important Romantic ideal, but his work is in many ways distinct from that of the Romantics. At the same time, he avoided using the techniques of the abstract artists and the realists. In a world that was in transition through and through, the work of Arthur B. Davies seems to belong in its own category altogether.

Abstract art was becoming popular in Arthur B. Davies lifetime, although it attracted a great deal of controversy. Arthur B. Davies took an intriguingly tolerant stance on the abstract art debate, since he was in favor of abstract art but primarily relied on more traditional art styles when he created his own art. Arthur B. Davies was willing to do art exhibitions with the famous realists of his day, so he didn't condemn their style either. Arthur B. Davies may have rejected these styles on an individual level, but he certainly didn't reject them on a societal level. Many of these artistic styles would not be where they are today without the help of Arthur B. Davies.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is one of the most famous museums in the world, particularly when it comes to art museums. Arthur B. Davies helped get the Museum of Modern Art established. He helped contribute to modern aesthetic styles an aesthetic appreciation in many different ways, making his commitment to the arts clear.

View our Arthur B. Davies Gallery

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