Little Giant Still Life (Primary Title)
The Champion (Alternate Title)

Stuart Davis, American, 1892 - 1964 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 33 × 43 in. (83.82 × 109.22 cm)
Framed: 41 3/4 × 52 1/8 in. (106.05 × 132.4 cm)

Based on an advertisement for spark plugs, this energetic still life underscores the creative link between fine art and commercial art. Davis dismissed “subject matter” as unimportant, using commonplace experiences and objects as points of artistic departure. He filtered this imagery through his own aesthetic sensibilities in order to arrive at the flat shapes he set down in crisp, vivid colors.

VMFA acquired Little Giant Still Life as a significant example of the latest currents in art production – much like that on display in the adjoining 21st-Century Art galleries. At the time of its controversial purchase from the museum’s 1950 biennial of contemporary painting – analyzed and hotly debated locally as well as in leading art journals – Cold War rhetoric had cast modern art as subversive and dangerous. Ultimately, abstraction was heralded as fully “American” – the product of a truly democratic society. Today an internationally recognized icon of mid-20th-century modernism, Little Giant Still Life is one of the most frequently lent and reproduced works in the museum’s collection.

Signed lower center: "Stuart Davis"
On right side of frame back: 82 stamped Dogana di Napoli; bottom right: 84 (circled); sticker: The Seven Santini Brothers Inc. N.Y.C. N.Y. 104; lower left corner: 2-3; upper left corner 32 (circled); VMFA tag, 11 (circled), "M2A 249-63"; Exhibition stickers: Walker Art Center L10-53:112 AFA cat no. 5, November 1968-November 1969 Musee d'Art Moderne de La Ville de Paris 1966, cat no. 30 National Collection of Fine Arts, S.L. 65.1.84, May 28 - November 28, 1965 First India Triennale, "American Painting of the Last 25 Years," cat no. 6, 68-01 XXVI. Biennale Internationale d'Arte DiVenezi 195?, no. 109 Minneapolis Institute of Art, no. L63.436 Lent to Brooklyn Museum,TL1977.94 Brooklyn Museum, January 21 - March 19, 1978 Fogg Art Museum, April 15 - May 28, 1978, cat no. 84
Inscribed at bottom left: "Stuart Davis"; "WASTERS(?) A-L 74-630 49ST" (covered by Santini Brothers sticker); top stretcher at left: "LITTLE GIANT STILL LIFE"; top stretcher at right: "STUART DAVIS DEC.1949 / MARCH 1950"
John Barton Payne Fund
Boyajian, Ani and Mark Rutkoski, editors. Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007.
© artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.