About This Artwork

Charles Demuth
American, 1883–1935

Spring, 1921

Oil and graphite on canvas
56.2 x 61.3 cm (22 1/8 x 24 1/8 in.)

Through prior gift of the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, 1989.231

In Spring Charles Demuth depicted the sample cards used to advertise new spring fabrics. Pablo Picasso was the first to create such painted collages—a practice called Synthetic Cubism. Although Demuth saw examples of the style in both New York and Paris, he only experimented with it once, in this work. Here his subject allowed him to construct the ideal modernist painting by using overlapping planes that remain faithful to the canvas’s inherent flatness. However, the sample cards also connect his picture to everyday concerns. By titling his painting Spring, Demuth wryly highlighted the new reality of American life, in which the changing of seasons was heralded not by nature but by commerce.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Whitney Museum, "Making Mischief: Dad Invades New York," November 20, 1996-March 2, 1997.

Publication History

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture, selected by James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein (Art Institute of Chicago, 1996), p.47, ill.

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 32.

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