ALAN DAVIEBritish 1920 - 2014


ALAN DAVIEBritish 1920 - 2014

Alan Davie is often feted as Scotland's greatest living painter. Of course, this kind of casual accolade is often applied to an artist of a certain age, rather like a lifetime achievement award to an actor at a film ceremony, but in Davie's case the moniker might actually do him a disservice. For a start, it dismisses his achievements in other fields, not least his poetry and his considerable talent as a classical and jazz pianist. More importantly, it also underplays just how important an artist he has been on a global stage throughout his 70 year career.

Davie's breakthrough as a painter occurred in 1948 when a meeting with Peggy Guggenheim led to a series of acquisitions and an entrée into the vibrant and emerging New York art scene. By 1956 he had held his first exhibition at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York. More than perhaps any other British artist, Davie embraced the prevailing trends in American art at the time and his work shares a common thread with De Kooning, Motherwell and Pollock - all of whom he met. Something of Pollock's mark making is echoed in Davie's work at the time with both artists sharing an interest in Jungian theory and 'automatic drawing'.

Retrospective exhibitions followed in 1958, at the Wakefield Art Gallery, The Whitechapel (London) and the Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool). By the year of our work (1963) Davie was arguably at the height of his fame. He was selected to represent Britain at the 7th Sao Paulo Bienal and won the Painting Prize. 17 of his paintings were then toured throughout South America by the British Council. His work can be found in many of the world's greatest collections, not least the Metropolitan Museum (New York), MOMA (New York), Tate Gallery (London) and of course the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh).