Alan Wheatley Art

Alan Davie Artist Biography  British, 1920 - 2014

Alan Davie is one of Britain's most internationally acclaimed artists and is Scotland's most important artist of the twentieth century. He was the first British painter - and perhaps the first of all European artists - to realise the vitality and significance of American Abstract Expressionism.

Throughout his life Alan Davie obsessively drew and painted, producing paintings of startling originality, vitality and daring. Combining imagery derived from different world cultures with a love of music and language, Alan Davie's paintings are a complex yet joyous celebration of creativity that combine the expressive freedom of abstraction with a wealth of signs, symbols and words.

Having seen the Jackson Pollock paintings from Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice in 1948, Alan Davie was inspired to begin painting on a much larger scale, in an improvisatory way, with a vigorous, aggressive handling of paint. In 1950 Alan Davie abandoned the human body as a measuring stick - from now on, the latter, when it appeared, was in such a divided state that it was hardly identifiable - assuming an intrinsic dimension, a step away from reality. His compositions, based on the authority of the features, similar to those of Paul Klee enabled the painting to truly occupy the entirety of the plane.

Alan Davie added to a concentration of colour - already a remarkable feature in Jackson Pollock’s work before 1945 - the possibility of recognizing shapes, suggestions of movement and primitive, magical rituals.

Alan Davie explored a diverse range of activities: from 1949 to 1953 he earned his living by making jewellery and in 1947 he worked as a jazz musician, an activity he has continued in later life. Alan Davie also wrote poetry during the early 1940s.

As early as 1958 Alan Davie emphasised the importance in his work of intuition as expressed in the form of enigmatic signs. During the 1960s, both in paintings and in coloured lithographs, he represented such images with increasing clarity at the expense of gestural handling. Taking on the role of a disinherited shaman, Alan Davie created a synthesis of mythologies from a variety of cultures for a modern civilisation devoid of its own village myths.

Alan Davie was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2012.

The Telegraph, Obituary

Selected solo exhibitions:
1946 Alan Davie
1948 Alan Davie, Galleria Michelangelo, Florence, Italy
1948 Alan Davie, Galleria Sandri, Venice, Italy
1950- Alan Davie, First solo exhibition at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London with subsequent shows to date
1956 Alan Davie, First American solo exhibition at Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA
1957 Alan Davie, Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA
1958 Alan Davie, First retrospective exhibition at Wakefield City Art Gallery, Liverpool, touring to Nottingham University, Nottingham; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
1961 Alan Davie, Ester Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
1961 Alan Davie, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, USA
1962-63 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at FBA Galleries, London, touring to Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Kunsternes Hus, Oslo, Norway; Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany; Kunstgewerbeverein, Pforzheim, Germany and Kunsthalle, Berne, Switzerland
1963 British section of 7th Bienal de Bellas Artes de São Paolo, Brazil, where awarded prize for Best Foreign Painter
1968 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh
1970-71 Alan Davie, North American retrospective exhibition at University Art Museum of Texas, Austin, USA, touring to Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal, Canada and California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, USA
1971 2nd Triennale of World Art, Delhi, India
1972 Alan Davie, Edinburgh International Festival - retrospective exhibition at RSA Galleries, Edinburgh, touring to Kunstverein Braunschweig and Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany
1976 Galleria La Medusa, Rome, Italy
1981 Galerie Van Loe, Frankfurt, Germany
1982 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong
1982 FIAC, Paris, France
1986 Alan Davie, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, USA
1987 FIAC, Paris, France
1988 South West Galleries Association, touring eight cities in Scotland
1990 Galleri G, Helsingborg, Sweden
1992 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
1992-97 Alan Davie, The British Council exhibition of works on paper at The Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, touring to Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Tasmania and Australia
1993 Alan Davie: Retrospective, Barbican Art Gallery, London
1993 Alan Davie, ACA Galleries, New York, USA
1997 Alan Davie, ACA Galleries, New York, USA
1997 Alan Davie, University of Brighton Gallery
1997 Alan Davie, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
1997 Alan Davie, Thomas Dane Gallery, London
2000 - 2001 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at University of Brighton Gallery, Brighton, touring to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; University of Edinburgh, MAC Birmingham and Gimpel Fils, London
2001 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2002 Alan Davie, University of Wales Institute, Howard Gardens Gallery, USA
2003 Alan Davie, James Hyman Fine Art, London
2003 Alan Davie, Retrospective exhibition at Tate St Ives, Cornwall
2004 Alan Davie, ACA Galleries, New York, USA
2005 Alan Davie, Galleria Morone, Milan, Italy
2007 Alan Davie, Thomas Dane Gallery, London
2007 Alan Davie, ACA Galleries, USA
2010 Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London to celebrate 90th birthday of the artist
2011 Alan Davie: To Uncover the Hidden Unknown, Alan Wheatley Art, London
2014 Alan Davie: The (Wild) Eye of Wonder, Alan Wheatley Art, London

Public collections include:
Australia
Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Brazil
Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo
Canada
Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa
National Gallery of Canada - Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa
Germany
Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
Italy
Trevi Flash Art Museum Of Contemporary Art, Trevi
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Portugal
Berardo Museum - Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lisbon
Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigão - Fundacão Calouste Gulbenkian
South Africa
Iziko South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town
Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria
Switzerland
Schaulager, Münchenstein / Basel
United Kingdom
Arts Council of England
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham
British Council City Art Centre, Edinburgh
Fitzwilliam Gallery, Cambridge
Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds
Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh
Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Ulster Museum, Belfast Northern Ireland
The Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
The Fleming Collection, London
Tate, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
USA
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Museum of Art, San Francisco
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK

Interview with Alan Davie, 2010

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