Letter and His Ecol
Late in his career, Davis returned to distinctive motifs from his earlier compositions, often incorporating letters and cryptic fragments of words. In "Letter and His Ecol," the allusive bilingual title may refer to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In the top center of the composition, the letters "Ecol" and "Inst" appear, the latter suggesting the French word "Institut." (Davis had titled a 1925 gouache "Institut de France," after the institution that oversaw the Ecole des Beaux Arts.) "In Letter and His Ecol" he rhythmically ordered his composition through the use of red, green, yellow, and black, having worKed out the placement of shapes through two black and white studies. In the lower right, the word "any" appears, while diagonally opposite, in the upper left, appears an "X," next to which Davis placed his signature. Firmly established as a master of American art of the 1950s, Davis's ascent was largely overshadowed by the emergence of Abstract Expressionism. Nevertheless, the courageous experimentation of Davis's pioneering modernist imagery of the early 1940s paved the way for a younger generation of artists exploring not just abstraction, but also Pop Art and Minimalism, Davis also made a significant contribution as a writer, leaving behind more than fifteen thousand pages of notes on art.