In this painting, Davis continued exploring the power of black and white, as seen in Drugstore Reflection, c. 1932, and Untitled (Black and White Variation on Windshield Mirror), c. 1954-64, moving from the complexity of multiple views to an emphasis on clarity. Contained by a border around the edge of the canvas, the painting’s shapes are compartmentalized and mostly unidentifiable, save for the word “ANY” painted sideways on the lower left of the composition.
As the title suggests another version of the painting exists. Letter and His Ecol, 1962, in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, shares the same composition, but features green, yellow, and red in addition to black and white.
Estate of the Artist;
[Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, IL];
[Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, NY];
[Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM];
The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection, 2006-2008;
Gift to The Vilcek Foundation, 2008;
New York. Salander O’Reilly Galleries. Stuart Davis: Black and White. November 6-December 28, 1985, cat. no. 57 (supplementary checklist).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stuart Davis, American Painter. (November 23, 1991-February 16, 1992); San Francisco. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (March 26-June 7, 1992); pp. 307, 308, ill p. 307, cat. no. 169.
New York. Salander-O’Reilly Galleries. Stuart Davis: Black and White Paintings & Drawings. February 3-27, 1999.
Lexington, Kentucky. Art Museum At The University Of Kentucky. Mid Century Modernism From The Huntington Museum Of Art. December 4, 2010-March 26, 2011.
St. Louis. Kemper Museum Of Contemporary Art. Fall 2011-April 2012.
St. Peter, MN. The Hillstrom Museum of Art. Stuart Davis in Black & White. September 12-November 6, 2022.
Wilkin, Karen. Stuart Davis. New York: Abbeville Press, 1987, ill. p. 212, pl. 218, as Letter and His Ecol, Black and White Version No. 1.
Boyajian, Ani and Mark Rutkoski eds. Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007, vol. 3, pp. 462-463, color ill. p. 462, cat. no. 1736, as Letter and His Ecol. (Black and White Version).
Agee, William C. and Lewis Kachur. Masterpieces of American Modernism: From the Vilcek Collection. London: Merrell, 2013, pp. 19, 216-217, 264, ill. p. 217.