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Alan Davie

Wheel on the Tight Rope, 1961

Oil on paper laid on board
42 x 53.3 cm
Opus OG.223/61-33

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ALAN DAVIE  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 combines 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 vigorous, aggressive handling of paint. 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 had 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

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