richard green Ken Howard

Alan Davie

  • Alan Davie - Jumpin' at the Woodside
    Alan Davie Jumpin' at the Woodside Signed, dated and inscribed JUMPIN’ AT/THE WOODSIDE/Alan Davie/Nov 1965 on the reverse
    Oil on canvas
    48 x 60 in
    121.9 x 152.4 cm
    Full details

    BH 64

     

    ALAN DAVIE RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

    Jumpin' at the Woodside

     

    Signed, dated and inscribed JUMPIN’ AT/THE WOODSIDE/Alan Davie/Nov 1965 on the reverse

    Oil on canvas: 48 x 60 in / 121.9 x 152.4 cm

    Frame size: 50 x 62 in / 127 x 157.5

     

    Provenance:

    Theo Waddington Fine Arts, Montreal

    Sale, Sotheby’s London, 25th May 1989, lot 316

    Sale, Christie’s London, 25th November 1993, lot 106

    Robert Devereux Collection, sold to support The African Arts Trust

     

     

    Jumpin’ at the Woodside was a song written in 1938 by the American jazz pianist, William ‘Count’ Basie (1904 – 1984), while rehearsing in the basement of the Woodside Hotel, New York.  Several of Davie’s paintings from the 1960s, such as Cure for the blues (1964), Portrait of Sonny Rollins (1964-6) and Jazz by moonlight (1966) refer to jazz in their titles.  As Michael Tucker explained in his article ‘Music Man’s Dream’, ‘Jazz has been one of the major transforming loves of Davie’s life. His whole way of working might be compared to the manner in which a great jazz musician will take a theme and develop its melodic, harmonic and rhythmic potential with a personal voice and a striking sense of time... Improvisation and intuition, which are central to the jazz aesthetic, have always been crucial to Davie.

     

    Davie had a promising career as a professional jazz saxophonist with the Tommy Sampson Big Band in the late 1940s, before deciding to devote himself fully to painting...The rhythmic power and intuitive command of the exploratory form, texture and highly-keyed colour which distinguish so many of Davie’s paintings of the 1950s and 1960s are redolent of nothing so much as the imagination of such modern jazz masters as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.  Like the best of their solos, Davie’s free-flowing drawing with paint thickens and twists, advances and recedes, in a syncopated, polyrhythic dance of hypnotic intensity’ (Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, pp.71-88).

     

     

     

    Egyptian Triptych, 1965, Dallas Museum of Arts
    ALAN DAVIE
    RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

    Alan Davie was born on 28th September 1920 at Grangemouth, Scotland, to a pianist mother and artist father. Davie studied at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 and was awarded the Andrew Grant Scholarship in 1938 and 1941. From 1941–46, Davie carried out his military service with the Royal Artillery, during which he received the Guthrie Award for best painting at the Royal Scottish Academy summer show of 1942. He also discovered a passion for writing and reading poetry, in particular the work of Walt Whitman. In 1945 the artist was impressed by exhibitions on Picasso and Klee which he visited while on leave in London. Demobilised from the army, Davie held his first one-man exhibition in a bookshop in Edinburgh in 1946. On a visit to London that same year, an exhibition of African sculpture inspired a profound interest in primitive art. The following year he married Janet (Bili) Gaul, an artist/potter, and became a full-time jazz musician, playing tenor saxophone with Tommy Sampson’s Orchestra. He also began making and selling silver jewellery (in 1951, jewellery designed by Davie was worn by Vivian Leigh in Anthony and Cleopatra). Davie took up his deferred scholarship and travelled throughout Europe in the late 1940s through France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy, holding exhibitions in Florence and Venice, where he met and sold a painting to Peggy Guggenheim in 1948. Guggenheim also showed Davie her important collection of modern art, which may have been his first glimpse of American Abstract Expressionism. In 1950 he held his first solo show at Gimpel Fils, London and exhibited there every two years after that. Davie bought a cottage in Landsend, also in 1950, which he visited during the following summers. In 1954 the artist converted stables at Gamels, Hertfordshire into a home and studio.

     

    Davie’s first American exhibition was held at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York in 1956, which he attended, meeting Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, purchased paintings from the exhibition.  The artist’s interest in Zen Buddhism, inspired by Eugen Herrigel’s book Zen in the Art of Archery, developed from the mid-1950s along with the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious, animating his intuitive, improvisatory approach to painting. Davie taught at the Central School of Art from 1953-56 and from 1956–59 at Leeds College of Art, having been awarded the Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University. Two retrospectives of Davie’s work were held in 1958, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (which made an impact on David Hockney) and Wakefield Art Gallery. Retrospectives were also subsequently held in 1993 at the Barbican Gallery, London and in 2003 at Tate St Ives. During the 1960s, he took up gliding and experimented with lithography. He also produced the first of several records by the Alan Davie Music Workshop. In 1963, Davie exhibited in the British section of the Bienal at São Paulo, Brazil, winning the award for best foreign painter. Alan Bowness published his monograph of the artist with Lund Humphries in 1967. Davie was awarded a CBE in 1972 and was commissioned the same year by the architect Peter Haupt to paint the Berlin School Murals. He also produced tapestry and mosaic designs, the latter for his home town, Grangemouth, for which he was awarded the Saltire Award in 1977. From the late 1970s, Davie began spending winters in St Lucia. He was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2012 and was the subject of a BP Spotlight display at Tate Britain in 2014, featuring the eight oil paintings by Davie in their collection.

     

  • Alan Davie - How High
    Alan Davie How High Signed, dated Nov 1960 and inscribed on the reverse
    Oil on board
    48 x 60 in
    121.9 x 152.4 cm
    Full details

     

     

    SP 4796

     

    ALAN DAVIE RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

    How High

     

    Signed, dated and inscribed OPUS 0.388/HOW HIGH/Alan Davie/NOV 1960 on the reverse

    Oil on board: 48 x 60 in / 121.9 x 152.4 cm

    Frame size: 51 x 63 in / 129.5 x 160 cm

    Opus 0.338

     

    Provenance:

    Martha Jackson Gallery, New York [No. 6412]

     

    Literature:

    Alan Bowness (ed.), Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, no. 288

     

     

    Alan Davie’s international reputation grew throughout the 1950s and in 1956 he had his first one-man show at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, prompting him to visit New York for the first time. While there, the critic Dore Ashton organized two parties so that Davie could meet contemporary artists such as Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. During the course of the show the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo both bought works. Two years later, a major retrospective took place in the UK, held at four venues including the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. 

     

    In the 1960s Davie was at the peak of his powers and in a position to enjoy his success. He gave up teaching, bought a house in Cornwall and pursued exhilarating activities such as gliding, sailing, diving and music, the joy of which he was able to incorporate into his work.  The titles ascribed to paintings made during this period (which Davie usually invented once the work was completed) reflect the lighter tone and high spirits of the artist at the time.

     

    The ecstatic enthusiasm and spontaneity of Davie’s intuitive approach is delightfully embodied in How High, it’s dramatic explosion of vibrant colour and rapid brushwork creating a riotous image. The numbered opus sub-title, usually ascribed to a musical composition, demonstrates the clear correlation between Davie’s art and work as a jazz musician, as he explained during an interview in 1992: ‘It’s never the case in my work of having an idea first and then putting it on paper. The idea comes out of working. I do a whole series of drawings on an idea which has presented itself. I might do about twenty variations using that idea and developing it. It is very much like improvising on a piano – sitting down and playing, an idea will appear out of putting

     

     

     

    one note against another, which leads to other notes and, before you know where you are, a melodic line has appeared, and a harmonic structure presents itself’.[1]

     

     

     


    ALAN DAVIE
    RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

    Alan Davie was born on 28th September 1920 at Grangemouth, Scotland, to a pianist mother and artist father. Davie studied at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 and was awarded the Andrew Grant Scholarship in 1938 and 1941. From 1941–46, Davie carried out his military service with the Royal Artillery, during which he received the Guthrie Award for best painting at the Royal Scottish Academy summer show of 1942. He also discovered a passion for writing and reading poetry, in particular the work of Walt Whitman. In 1945 the artist was impressed by exhibitions on Picasso and Klee which he visited while on leave in London. Demobilised from the army, Davie held his first one-man exhibition in a bookshop in Edinburgh in 1946. On a visit to London that same year, an exhibition of African sculpture inspired a profound interest in primitive art. The following year he married Janet (Bili) Gaul, an artist/potter, and became a full-time jazz musician, playing tenor saxophone with Tommy Sampson’s Orchestra. He also began making and selling silver jewellery (in 1951, jewellery designed by Davie was worn by Vivian Leigh in Anthony and Cleopatra). Davie took up his deferred scholarship and travelled throughout Europe in the late 1940s through France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy, holding exhibitions in Florence and Venice, where he met and sold a painting to Peggy Guggenheim in 1948. Guggenheim also showed Davie her important collection of modern art, which may have been his first glimpse of American Abstract Expressionism. In 1950 he held his first solo show at Gimpel Fils, London and exhibited there every two years after that. Davie bought a cottage in Landsend, also in 1950, which he visited during the following summers. In 1954 the artist converted stables at Gamels, Hertfordshire into a home and studio.

     

    Davie’s first American exhibition was held at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York in 1956, which he attended, meeting Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, purchased paintings from the exhibition.  The artist’s interest in Zen Buddhism, inspired by Eugen Herrigel’s book Zen in the Art of Archery, developed from the mid-1950s along with the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious, animating his intuitive, improvisatory approach to painting. Davie taught at the Central School of Art from 1953-56 and from 1956–59 at Leeds College of Art, having been awarded the Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University. Two retrospectives of Davie’s work were held in 1958, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (which made an impact on David Hockney) and Wakefield Art Gallery. Retrospectives were also subsequently held in 1993 at the Barbican Gallery, London and in 2003 at Tate St Ives. During the 1960s, he took up gliding and experimented with lithography. He also produced the first of several records by the Alan Davie Music Workshop. In 1963, Davie exhibited in the British section of the Bienal at São Paulo, Brazil, winning the award for best foreign painter. Alan Bowness published his monograph of the artist with Lund Humphries in

     

     

    1967. Davie was awarded a CBE in 1972 and was commissioned the same year by the architect Peter Haupt to paint the Berlin School Murals. He also produced tapestry and mosaic designs, the latter for his home town, Grangemouth, for which he was awarded the Saltire Award in 1977. From the late 1970s, Davie began spending winters in St Lucia. He was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2012 and was the subject of a BP Spotlight display at Tate Britain in 2014, featuring the eight oil paintings by Davie in their collection.

    [1] The artist cited in P. Elliot, Alan Davie: Work in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, 2000, p. 14.

  • Alan Davie - Goddess of the Green
    Alan Davie Goddess of the Green Signed, dated Dec '54 and inscribed on the reverse
    Oil on masonite
    63 x 75 1/2 in
    160 x 191.8 cm
    Full details

     

     

    BE 65

     

    ALAN DAVIE RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

    Goddess of the Green

     

    Signed, dated twice and inscribed Alan Davie Dec ’54 /“GODDESS OF THE GREEN” / Alan Davie / 54 on the reverse

    Oil on masonite: 63 x 75 ½ in / 160 x 191.8 cm

    Frame size: 63 ⅝ x 76 ⅜ in / 161.6 x 194 cm

     

    Provenance:

    The Collection of Stanley J. Seeger, Frenchtown, New Jersey

     

    Exhibited:

    Edinburgh, The Arts Council Scottish Committee, Seven Scottish Painters: An Exhibition of Paintings by Seven Scottish Artists now working in London and the South of England, 1955, no. 18

    New York, Catherine Viviano Gallery, Alan Davie, March-April, 1956, no. 9

    London, Redfern Gallery, Metavisual, Tachist, Abstract, 4th April – 4th May 1957, illustrated

    Minnesota, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, New European Painting and Sculpture, 23rd September 1959 – 16th October 1960 (as Number 9, 1954)

    Princeton University, The Art Museum, The Stanley J. Seeger Jr. Collection, June 1961, no. 55, (as Number Nine), illustrated in the catalogue

     

    Literature:

    Michael Horovitz, Alan Davie, Methuen, London, 1963, illustrated

    Alan Bowness (ed.), Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, no. 80, pl. 19

    Douglas Hall and Michael Tucker, Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, p.170, no. 109, illustrated pl.7

     

     

    In the early 1950s, Alan Davie began painting in series as a result of a process initiated in his brush drawings, such as Image of the Fish God, 1954 (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). The procedure involved the artist laying a dozen or so sheets of paper on the floor and making a similar mark or motif on each piece. He would then add further marks automatically in sequence, consistently altering the forms and their placement resulting in a group of drawings with a common vocabulary. Davie’s free and intuitive approach was influenced and encouraged by his interest in Zen Buddhism and Jungian psychology, whose notion of the collective unconscious involved a forgotten or repressed ‘archetypal symbolism’ which could only be accessed by giving free expression to the unconscious mind. Through this process of serial painting, Davie developed a number of symbols which reappeared during the 1950s including triangle and diamond shapes as well as figurative references.

     

    At the beginning of the decade Davie painted mainly on masonite board and mixed his own paints in order to get a greater intensity of colour and the required fluidity to facilitate his quick, spontaneous application, occasionally adding sawdust to give texture. As the works got larger, he had to stand on the picture to get to the centre and as in the present painting, added his footprints to the finished work. As the artist described in relation to another work of the mid 1950s, Birth of Venus (Tate), ‘I must make it clear that the titles of my pictures are not meant to be taken literally but are in fact my own poetic interpretation of the work, thought up usually after the work is complete’.[1] 

     

    Davie’s international reputation grew throughout the 1950s and in 1956 he had his first one-man show at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York. As preparations for the exhibition were being made, Stanley Seeger visited the gallery and met with the owner and the artist Jackson Pollock. As Davie’s paintings were unpacked, Seeger and Pollock discussed them and Goddess of the green caught his eye. Pollock’s reaction, as recounted by Seeger, was instinctive ‘I know exactly what he means, push and pull, black and white, good vs bad’. Pollock’s evident awe as well as the vitality and immediacy of the painting convinced Seeger to buy it before the exhibition opened. It was the first of many works by the artist to enter his collection. 

     

     

     


    ALAN DAVIE
    RA CBE

    Grangemouth, Scotland 1920 – 2014 Hertfordshire

     

     

    Alan Davie was born on 28th September 1920 at Grangemouth, Scotland, to a pianist mother and artist father. Davie studied at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 and was awarded the Andrew Grant Scholarship in 1938 and 1941. From 1941–46, Davie carried out his military service with the Royal Artillery, during which he received the Guthrie Award for best painting at the Royal Scottish Academy summer show of 1942. He also discovered a passion for writing and reading poetry, in particular the work of Walt Whitman. In 1945 the artist was impressed by exhibitions on Picasso and Klee which he visited while on leave in London. Demobilised from the army, Davie held his first one-man exhibition in a bookshop in Edinburgh in 1946. On a visit to London that same year, an exhibition of African sculpture inspired a profound interest in primitive art. The following year he married Janet (Bili) Gaul, an artist/potter, and became a full-time jazz musician, playing tenor saxophone with Tommy Sampson’s Orchestra. He also began making and selling silver jewellery (in 1951, jewellery designed by Davie was worn by Vivian Leigh in Anthony and Cleopatra). Davie took up his deferred scholarship and travelled throughout Europe in the late 1940s through France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy, holding exhibitions in Florence and Venice, where he met and sold a painting to Peggy Guggenheim in 1948. Guggenheim also showed Davie her important collection of modern art, which may have been his first glimpse of American Abstract Expressionism. In 1950 he held his first solo show at Gimpel Fils, London and exhibited there every two years after that. Davie bought a cottage in Landsend, also in 1950, which he visited during the following summers. In 1954 the artist converted stables at Gamels, Hertfordshire into a home and studio.

     

    Davie’s first American exhibition was held at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York in 1956, which he attended, meeting Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, purchased paintings from the exhibition.  The artist’s interest in Zen Buddhism, inspired by Eugen Herrigel’s book Zen in the Art of Archery, developed from the mid-1950s along with the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious, animating his intuitive, improvisatory approach to painting. Davie taught at the Central School of Art from 1953-56 and from 1956–59 at Leeds College of Art, having been awarded the Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University. Two retrospectives of Davie’s work were held in 1958, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (which made an impact on David Hockney) and Wakefield Art Gallery. Retrospectives were also subsequently held in 1993 at the Barbican Gallery, London and in 2003 at Tate St Ives. During the 1960s, he took up gliding and experimented with lithography. He also produced the first of several records by the Alan Davie Music Workshop. In 1963, Davie exhibited in the British section of the Bienal at São Paulo, Brazil, winning the award for best foreign painter. Alan Bowness published his monograph of the artist with Lund Humphries in 1967. Davie was awarded a CBE in 1972 and was commissioned the same year by the architect Peter Haupt to paint the Berlin School Murals. He also produced tapestry and mosaic designs, the latter for his home town, Grangemouth, for which he was awarded the Saltire Award in 1977. From the late 1970s, Davie began spending winters in St Lucia. He was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 2012 and was the subject of a BP Spotlight display at Tate Britain in 2014, featuring the eight oil paintings by Davie in their collection.

     

    [1] The artist, 9th August 1958, quoted on the Tate website.

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