Café, Place des Vosges, 1929
Oil on canvas
29 x 36 inches
Signed lower right
In 1928 Davis traveled for the first time to Paris. He roamed its neighborhoods, sketching the architecture and urban fabric of the city. “I am principally interested in the streets,” he wrote to his father. He was especially fascinated by the Place des Vosges, whose arcades inspired this ambitious painting.
Davis sketched the façade of a café during his visit, taking notes on the signage and colors. The following year he made a larger ink drawing from his sketch, building on those aspects he found most essential. This drawing then became the basis for Café, Place des Vosges, a prime example of Davis’s color-space compositions.
After he returned to New York, Davis began to look at his surroundings as he did in Paris. In his subsequent paintings, which sometimes merged Paris and New York motifs, he constructed space out of colored planes, flattening perspective to remove some of the reality of a scene. This approach had its origins in works such as Café, Place des Vosges and would be the essential basis of Davis’s work for decades to come.