Stuart Davis
American (1894–1964)
Matches, 1927
Oil on canvas

Stuart Davis's working life began with an apprenticeship in Ashcan realism under Robert Henri and John Sloan. He came to artistic maturity just after the First World War, flourishing in the heady modernism of 1920s New York. Remarkably, Davis maintained a distinctive artistic identity through decades of antithetical movements, remaining determinedly resistant to social realism and independent of Abstract Expressionism and Pop art.

Matches is from a small group of advanced paintings that critics, historians, and even Davis himself considered milestones. They were shown in April 1928 at the Valentine Gallery in New York, and in his artist's statement, Davis said the paintings were not abstractions. They were realistic pictures of "abstract conceptions."