Blips and Ifs

Stuart Davis (1892–1964)

Object Details

  • 1963
  • Medium:
  • Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:
  • 71 1/8 X 53 1/8
  • Accession Number:
  • 1967.195
  • Artwork Credits:
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, In memory of John de Menil, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1961-1969

Object Description

Davis transformed aspects of everyday life in this complex abstraction, one of his last great paintings. The title—which refers to the “blips” on a radar screen and the “ifs” of radar’s intermediate frequencies—suggests the artist was thinking of movement and beats as he painted the composition. The work’s large scale, bright palette, and subject matter allude to billboard advertisements. The contemporary slang terms “Pa” (pad) and “Tight,” the letters “Compl” (complete), and the artist’s signature at the top all become powerful pictorial elements. Depicted in vibrant green, red, yellow, and white (colors often seen in ads of the era), these motifs lie flat against a black background yet reverberate in space.

Location: On View
Part of: Paintings