1943 May 1- Art Digest - Gladys Davis Continues Progress

           The richly plastic figure studies and still lifes of Gladys Rockmore Davis that have become such popular favorites at exhibitions may be viewed as a unit at the Midtown Galleries, where thirteen canvases by this talented painter remain on view through May 15.  Since so many of the pictures have been encountered in national and group exhibitions, the current show takes on the appearance of a retrospective survey of recent work.

            There is renewed acquaintanceship with the impressive End of Summer, an easily composed study of the artist’s two tanned children, Deborah and Noel (see cover of this issue); and the garish arrangement of tinsel and glitter so lavishly disturbing called After Christmas.  Both of these are to be remembered from the Artist for Victory show at the Metropolitan Museum.  Then there is the familiar over-abundant still life of vegetables and fruit, like a spilled Horn of Plenty, encountered in a Whitney Annual.  Less well known but publicly initiated is the striking beauty of curly-haired Noel With Violin, just back from the Corcoran Biennial. 

            One of our strongest women artists who is not so much concerned with fantasy as she is with painting a good, solid professional picture, Mrs. Davis continues her amazing ten-year rise to top honors by producing more pictures that both she and the public like-strong in craftsmanship, rich in color and calm in thought.  But through it all one notes an experimentation going on, further development of her intensely individual technique and explorations into all kinds of color possibilities.

            Having captured public attention with large, easy flowing and luminous nudes, Mrs. Davis had the courage to turn from a Renoir palette to heavy, richly pigmented and more somber-toned figures and still lifes, of which the debatable After Christmas is an example.  Then from over-emphasis on too many objects, too violent a palette with greens hotter than most artists’ reds, Mrs. Davis emerges with new distinction.  She has proved her point.  And out of this has come such striking examples as the simplified Girl in White, developed with grace and dignity, the impressive Noel With Violin and the appealing End of Summer, also revealing a steadier control of her theme, a more thoughtful use of her true creative powers. –H.B.