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ALAN DAVIE (born 1920, Grangemouth, Scotland) is one of Britain’s most renowned and internationally acclaimed living artist, whose career spans more than six decades. A multi-faceted talent, Davie has created his own unique artistic language, related to the diversity of his interest in world cultures, primitive art, Zen Buddhism, poetry, modern music and gliding. Distinguished by spontaneity, exuberant colour and improvisation, Davie's work has been exhibited frequently for the last 65 years and his paintings have been included in some of the most eminent private and public collections around the world.

‘This is an important exhibition. The best paintings of Alan Davie reach out to seize the eye, the imagination and the empathetic faculty. [...] There is so much more to be said about Alan Davie as man, philosopher, musician, even mystic, that cannot be touched on here. He has written and spoken about his concepts, and has been written about extensively. But above all he speaks through his paintings, and it would be hard to find a better occasion to listen to them than this exhibition.’

Douglas Hall, 2011 (Extract from an essay of the exhibition catalogue)

This catalogue has been published to accompany the exhibition at Alan Wheatley Art Alan Davie: To Uncover the Hidden Unknown, Early Paintings 1949-1968, 16 June - 22 July 2011


ALAN DAVIE To Uncover the Hidden Unknown


ALAN DAVIE To Uncover the Hidden Unknown


‘All my images are made in order to uncover the hidden unknown.’ Alan Davie


ALAN DAVIE: EARLY PAINTINGS 1949-1968 This is an important exhibition. The best paintings of Alan Davie reach out to seize the eye, the imagination and the empathetic faculty. But they also need, for fuller understanding, some recollection of the atmosphere in which they were created. In 1949, when the earliest of them here was painted, the post-war longing for normality was blotting into a sullen recognition that a new era had begun, marked by austerity. It was not an auspicious time for the art we were used to, but it was such a time when art can and should latch on to a new mood, whether to celebrate or satirize it. In the West, where art was free, the 1940s proved to be one of the most creative, consistent and expressive decades of the century. In England, though the progressive art of the forties is now very recognisable, it was shaped by some special factors. First of them was the course of the recent war. Artists in fortress Britain could not hop over to Paris, the fountain of innovative genius in art for decades past. And when the fog of war finally cleared, it seemed that Paris had lost its ascendancy and allure, soon to be replaced by New York as the Mecca for young artists. In war-time Britain, artists had a different agenda, to record not only the deadly struggle itself, but the visual culture, the heritage we would call it now, of a country under threat of destruction. Hence the honourable body of Official War Artists. They had no monopoly of these sentiments, but had government encouragement to record and express them. By a remarkable act of enlightenment, the avant-garde artists of the time were included and allowed to do so in their own way. It was through their war paintings that Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and many other modernists first became known to the general public. But their work then and later was shaped by the English qualities of restraint and intellectualism. A high degree of personal expression or an assertive size (of paintings, not sculpture) was not acceptable. In 1949 the new American painters, who gleefully broke these unspoken rules, were still hardly known here. It was left to two Scots, Alan Davie and William Gear, to break into the English reticence with what seemed like wild abandon. The prevailing progressive painting of Scotland in that post-war period, if less intellectual than the English, was just as much designed for the drawing room rather than the museum of modern art. Here was a convention fit to be challenged. Young Scottish artists minded to challenge it, like Davie, had at least one thing in their background their English equivalents lacked - the use of colour and eye-catching brushwork of the Scottish Colourists and their imitators and successors. Their methods may or may not have been taught in art schools, but they were evident on the walls of Scottish galleries. At the war's end, Alan Davie was a seasoned man of 25, a brilliant, if bolshie, but highly regarded student of Edinburgh College of Art since 1937, and a soldier of four years' service. He was acutely sensitive to every mode of visual and musical culture, incessantly curious, and creative to the marrow. Demobilised, there followed four years of adventurous self-discovery, self-education rather, which included marriage, his first exhibition, membership of a well-known jazz orchestra, making jewellery, but above all travel through Europe. In Venice he met Peggy Guggenheim, who bought a painting, a significant milestone. Settled at last in London in 1949, he lived by making jewellery and playing the saxophone. That year he met the Gimpel brothers, who gave him an exhibition at Gimpel Fils the next year. One might say Davie had arrived.


1949 is the year of the earliest painting in this exhibition, Man with Fish Signs (Cat.1). Davie's titles, by the way, are his own and are usually imaginative, verbal extensions to the painting, seldom descriptive. This painting is not assertive, still slightly tentative and restrained in colour. Although Davie said at that period that he had no interest in contemporary French painting, there is an affinity here with the School of Paris, with their easy formal mastery. For a full demonstration of Davie's powers, only three years later, we must look at Black Column for a Mathematician (Cat.4), one of the largest paintings in this exhibition. The emphatic vertical division of the painting is rare in Davie, recalling the work of the American Barnett Newman; much more typical is the calligraphy of the brush, abstract but always hinting at real organic shapes. However 'wild' Davie may seem at times, there is always structure in his work, and this is a conspicuous example. The black column divides the painting in the proportions known as the golden section - a column for a mathematician indeed. The exhibition also shows a small (for Davie) painting of 1951, Structure No.2 (Cat.3), where the title heavily emphasises this aspect of his work, though in a very different way. 1951 was the year of the Festival of Britain, which marked a British fight-back to prosperity and satisfaction, and many advanced artists made work for it. Ironically, it was also the time when British sculptors were using steel to achieve both spatial and expressive, somewhat threatening ends, and this Davie may be a half satirical allusion to those metal frameworks of the time. But with that red central rectangle he made plain his belief in the superiority of painting. The structure in Davie's work is very evident in this exhibition, both in the large and smaller works. Even where it is far from obvious, as in Fate of the Lovely Dragon (Cat.7), that strange conglomerate of forms is rhythmic and carefully articulated. This painting is unusual in its lack of colour, but colour is nearly always an integral part of Davie's structure. A good example is Boomerang No.2 (Cat.9), where colour reinforces shape in establishing the ordered nature of these ambiguous forms. Yet even in a conspicuous and well known canvas like Creation of Eve (Cat.11), Davie eschews colour in favour of monochrome to depict the wonderful metamorphic chaos of his imagery. Unusually, the title offers a possible clue to its subject. Is it really a descriptive title? Very possibly, but whether the subject was present in Davie's mind from the start may never be known. It is not possible here to attempt analysis, but the jumble of suggestive forms will repay a careful scrutiny. What a contrast is The Divination (Cat.12), with its rear wall of colour, avowedly a wall as it has a picture on it, complete with mirror-plate. There are still passages of mysterious organic-looking jumbles, lurking in this domestic interior, but they are effectively exorcised by the primacy of shape and colour. These simple shapes were to be ever more important to Davie's work, becoming more complicated and taking on eventually a spiritual symbolism, informed by his interest in eastern religion and philosophy. In this painting we see hard-edged forms in dialogue with organic drawing, and this duality between 'planned', 'linear' or 'geometric' forms and spontaneous brushwork remained a feature of his work until the 1970's, when planned forms

predominate. Not that 'spontaneous' need mean

unplanned. Guardians of the Heart (Cat.16) is lightly brushed on, shadowy and ephemeral-looking, non-linear, but the conversation between the three forms was clearly intended from the outset. This 'conversation' between different ways of realising an idea is abundantly seen in the carefully selected smaller works in the exhibition.


There is a solid phalanx of substantial canvases of the 1960's here, and it is not possible to refer to them all. This decade was crucial in the development and change in the culture, and younger artists were innovating in ways that seemed to have little to do with the craft of painting. For Davie, by contrast, it was a decade of consolidation. Few so-called 'abstract' paintings afford such visual pleasure as a fine Davie of this period, and one must ponder why. We have considered the claims of both structure and spontaneity, and the 60s saw the most complex synthesis of these. Sometimes one or the other still predominates, as in Dolly Scent (Cat.24), where the scattering of forms against a white ground seems so spontaneous as to be haphazard. But it does also introduce a sense of space and distance often absent. In Heavenly Bridge No.3 (Cat.22), space is inferred more subtly by the blue ground, though the title suggests that the darker blue is water. Structure, here, is presented in the form of planes, whose planar nature is emphasized by the pattern upon them. The Hermit Gets the Message (Cat.25) is spontaneously calligraphic in the older way. In Delicious Morsel for the Crocodile No.2 (Cat.29), which is a canvas of unusual proportions for Davie, the dense and sophisticated structure is relieved by an open right-hand section, where we are introduced to the concepts of balance and gravity. In Catch the Tail Find the Fish (Cat.32), we get an early foretaste of the later Davie, with the introduction of recognisable symbols, the ankh and the crescent moon, effective shapes if not quite understandable in the context. In later works, the significance of symbols was made more plain. These comments are not adequate answers to the question, why are these sixties canvases so good. Visitors to the exhibition must form their own view on that. I have used a few 'key' words - synthesis and density, structure, spontaneity. Of colour, I have not said enough. In the end it is the fullness of visual experience that every single work provides, the life, strength and joy that give them each a claim to our attention. There is so much more to be said about Alan Davie as man, philosopher, musician, even mystic, that cannot be touched on here. He has written and spoken about his concepts, and has been written about extensively. But above all he speaks through his paintings, and it would be hard to find a better occasion to listen to them than this exhibition.

Douglas Hall April 2011


1 Man with Fish Signs 1949 Oil on board 100 x 70 cm / 39 ½ x 27 ½ inches Signed lower right; also signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


2 Balanced Cubes 1951 Oil on board 33 x 22 cm / 13 x 8 ¾ inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

3 Structure No.2 1951 Oil on board 47 x 61 cm / 18 ½ x 24 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


4 Black Column for a Mathematician February 1953 Oil on board 192 x 152.5 cm / 75 ½ x 60 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1956, Alan Davie, Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA, no.14. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.73, (catalogued as: Black Column 69+5, 74 x 69 inches).


5 Fetish with a Yellow Background November 1954 Oil on board 101.5 x 122 cm / 40 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus 0.106

PROVENANCE The Artist. Anne and Louis le Brocquy, Vence, France. Gimpel Fils, London. Maurice Cooke, UK. EXHIBITED 1968, Alan Davie - Retrospective of 52 Paintings, The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, cat.no.12. 1972, Alan Davie - Retrospective 1952-1972, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, cat.no.3, touring to Kunstverein Braunsweig and Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany. 1992, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, cat.no.14. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.77, ill.pl.20 (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie - Retrospective of 52 Paintings, The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, 1968, cat.no.12, ill. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie - Retrospective 1952-1972, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1972, cat.no.3, ill. (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, Glasgow Museums, 1992, cat.no.14, (catalogued as: 108.6 x 121.9 cm). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.106, ill.pl.51.


6 Untitled 1954 Oil on board 62 x 74 cm / 24 ½ x 29 inches Signed and dated verso

PROVENANCE Messum’s, London. Private collection, UK.

7 Untitled 1955 Oil on board 54 x 43 cm / 21 ¼ x 17 inches

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK.


8 Fate of the Lovely Dragon 1955 Oil on board 160 x 206 cm / 63 x 81 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus 0.125

PROVENANCE Mrs. A. Davie, UK. Gimpel Fils, London. EXHIBITED 1956, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, no.24. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.94, ill.pl.23 (B+W). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.125, ill.p.171 (B+W), (catalogued as: 66 x 75 inches).


9 Boomerang No.2 1956 Oil on board 160 x 193 cm / 63 x 76 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.172

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1962, Alan Davie: Retrospective, FBA Galleries, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, cat.no.4. 2007, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Retrospective, FBA Galleries, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, cat. no.4, (catalogued as: 1957, 157 ½ x 190 cm). Alan BOWNES (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.134. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2007, ill.p.9. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.172.


10 Study for the Temple No.4 (White) 1956 Oil on board 101.5 x 122 cm / 40 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.183

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 2004, Alan Davie: The Alchemical Journey, ACA Galleries, New York, USA, no.35. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.145.


11 Creation of Eve 1957 Oil on canvas 175 x 244 cm / 69 x 96 inches Signed and dated verso; inscribed with the title on the stretcher Opus O.199

PROVENANCE The Artist. Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. James Hyman Fine Art, London. Robert Devereux, UK. EXHIBITED 1958, Alan Davie - Retrospective, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, cat.no.54, touring to Wakefield City Art Gallery, Wakefield; Nottingham University, Nottingham; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. 1987, Alan Davie: Major Works of the Fifties, Gimpel Fils, London, cat.no.13. 1992, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, cat.no.22. 2001, Alan Davie: Schilderijen Paintings 1950-2000, Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2004, The Challenge of Post-War Painting, James Hyman Fine Art, London, cat.no.10. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie - Retrospective, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1958, cat.no.54, (catalogued as: 66 x 69 inches). Alan BOWNESS(ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.157, ill.pl.41 (B+W), (catalogued as: 66 x 69 inches). Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Major Works of the Fifties, Gimpel Fils, London, 1987, cat.no.13, ill. Exhibition catalogue, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, Glasgow Museums, 1992, cat.no.22, (catalogued as: 167.6 x 243.9 cm). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.199. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Schilderijen Paintings 1950-2000, Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2001, ill.p.21. Exhibition catalogue, The Challenge of Post-War Painting, James Hyman Fine Art, London, 2004, cat.no.10, ill.p.41.


12 The Divination March 1957 Oil on canvas 213.5 x 173 cm / 84 x 68 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.209

PROVENANCE The Artist. Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1957, Alan Davie, Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA, no.7. 1992, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, cat.no.25. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.164, ill.pl.44 (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, Glasgow Museums, 1992, cat.no.25. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.209, ill.pl.13 (B+W).


13 Game for Girls April 1957 Oil on board 101.5 x 122 cm / 40 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Mr. and Mrs. Yoland Markson, Los Angeles, USA. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1961, Alan Davie, Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA, 1961, (catalogued as: oil on canvas, 48 x 40 inches). Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.165, (catalogued as: March 1957).


14 Red Ball Stopper 1957 Oil on board 35.5 x 51.5 cm / 14 x 20 ¼ inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.214B

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

15 Red Ball and Yellow Ribbon No.1 1957 Oil on board 24.5 x 14 cm / 9 ¾ x 5 ½ inches Signed and dated lower right; also signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


16 Guardians of the Heart February 1958 Oil on board 101 x 122 cm / 39 他 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.245

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.196, (catalogued as: April 1958, 39 x 48 inches).


17 Green Stuff for the Birds to Peck 1958 Oil on paper 28 x 45 cm / 11 x 17 ¾ inches Signed and dated lower centre

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

18 Mystery of the Blue Cloud 1959 Oil on paper laid on board 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed and dated lower centre

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


19 Nest of the Golden Hippo 1960 Oil on paper on canvas 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title lower left

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, Belgium. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1982, FIAC, Paris.

20 Sea Chariot No.1 1960 Oil on paper laid on board 42.5 x 54 cm / 16 ¾ x 21 ¼ inches Signed and dated lower left and inscribed with the title lower right

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


21 Study from the Red Temple No.3 October 1960 Oil on canvas 122 x 101.5 cm /48 x 40 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Dr. William Tannenbaum, Chicago, USA. EXHIBITED 1960, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.267, (catalogued as: Entrance for a red temple No.3).


22 Heavenly Bridge No.3 November 1960 Oil on canvas 101.5 x 122 cm / 40 x 48 inches Signed and dated verso, inscribed with the title on the stretcher Opus O.358

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, London. André Zavriew, Institute Français, London. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1961, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London. 1968, Institute Français, London. 2007, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.304, ill. (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2007, ill.p.21.


23 Parrot Idly Dreaming November 1960 Oil on canvas 101.5 x 122 cm / 40 x 48 inches Signed and dated verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, London. Mr. and Mrs. Philip Gersh, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA. Los Angeles County Museum, USA. Private collection, USA. EXHIBITED 1961, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London. 1961, Alan Davie, Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA, 1961, ill. (B+W). Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.309.


24 Dolly Scent January 1962 Oil on canvas 122 x 152.5 cm / 48 x 60 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.430A

PROVENANCE Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 2007, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie. Paintings 1955-1967, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2007, ill.p.43.


25 The Hermit Gets the Message March 1962 Oil on canvas 183 x 152.5 cm / 72 x 60 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso; also inscribed with the title on the stretcher Opus O.469

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.405. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.469.


26 Klippety Klop March 1962 Oil on canvas 152.5 x 122 cm / 60 x 48 inches Dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.471

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, USA. EXHIBITED 2004, Alan Davie: The Alchemical Journey, ACA Galleries, New York, USA, no.33. 2007, Alan Davie: Mystic Visions, ACA Galleries, New York, USA, no.5. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.407.


27 Night and Day Marvel June 1962 Oil on canvas (diptych) 183 x 305 cm / 72 x 120 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso; also dated and inscribed with the title on the stretcher Opus O.481

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.417, (catalogued as: 120 x 72 inches). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.481, (catalogued as: 120 x 72 inches).


(Diptych)


28 Tasty Morsel for a Monkey January 1963 Oil on canvas 152.5 x 122 cm / 60 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.510

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.445. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.510.


29 Delicious Morsel for the Crocodile No.2 February 1963 Oil on canvas 122 x 213.5 cm / 48 x 84 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.512

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.447.


30 Rabbit Moves June 1964 Oil on canvas 51 x 61 cm / 20 x 24 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with opus number verso; also dated and inscribed with the title and opus number on the stretcher Opus O.G.2929

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


31 Flowery Gate September 1967 Oil on canvas 51 x 61 cm / 20 x 24 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number on the stretcher Opus O.G.341B

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

32 Catch the Tail Find the Fish No.1 October 1967 Oil on board 51 x 61 cm / 20 x 24 inches Signed and dated upper left; also signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.G.369A

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


33 Untitled Film Set June 1968 Oil on board 122 x 152.5 cm / 48 x 60 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.595C

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, Belgium. EXHIBITED 1989, Alan Davie. Major Works of the Sixties, Gimpel Fils, London, cat.no.9. 1992, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, cat.no.48. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Major Works of the Sixties, Gimpel Fils, London, 1989, cat.no.9. ill. Exhibition catalogue, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, Glasgow Museums, 1992, cat.no.48. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.595C, ill.p.179 (B+W), (catalogued as: oil on canvas).


BIOGRAPHY 1920 1937 - 1940 1938 1941 1941 - 1946 1942 1943 1945 1947 1948 1949 1950 1953 - 1956 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 - 1980 1963 - 1970 1966 1967 1971 1971 - 1979 1972 1974 1974 - 1991 1975 1977

1979 1982 1987 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 2002

Born in Grangemouth, Scotland Trained at Edinburgh College of Art Awarded Andrew Grant Scholarship Awarded Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship Military service with the Royal Artillery Received Guthrie Award for the best painting by a young artist at the Scottish Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Edinburgh Began to write poetry; played alto saxophone in jazz groups Visited Klee and Picasso exhibitions in London Touring as a professional jazz musician playing saxophone with Tommy Sampson’s Orchestra Married Janet ‘Bili’ Gaul, an artist-potter Travelled around Europe Met Peggy Guggenheim who purchased of one of his works from the Venice show Made jeweller y and silverware, performed as a jazz musician Birth of daughter Jane Met Herbert Read and Roland Penrose Taught at Central School of Arts and Crafts, London Interested in Zen Buddhism and oriental mysticism Met leading Abstract Expressionists: de Kooning, Kline, Motherwell, Pollock and Rothko Awarded Gregory Fellowship in Painting at the University of Leeds Elected member of the London Group Painting purchased by the Tate Gallery, London Taught at Central School of Arts and Crafts, London Pursued passion for gliding in 2000 hours in England, Switzerland and the USA Experimented in lithography Awarded First Prize at the International Graphics Exhibition, Cracow, Poland Monograph published by Lund Humphries edited by Alan Bowness First public recital of music, Gimpel Fils Gallery, London First record published by Alan Davie Music Workshop Recitals and recordings of spontaneous music by Alan Davie Music Workshop Awarded CBE (Commander of the British Empire) Berlin School Murals commissioned by architect Peter Haupt Tapestry design commissioned by Barry Cronan, executed in Ireland Concert tours in UK with the Tony Oxley Sextet Wintered annually in St. Lucia painting gouaches Music concert in Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, France Received Saltire Award for the mosaic for the town of Grangemouth, Scotland Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London Honoured by the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (HRSA) Visited Australia and Bali Taught at summer school at Emily Carr College of Art, Vancouver, Canada Received Order of the Southern Cross, Brazil Elected member of the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol Became Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, London Monograph published by Lund Humphries with essays by Douglas Hall and Michael Tucker Visiting Professor at University of Brighton School of Art Awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, Faculty of Art and Design, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Tapestry commissioned by Australian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne, Australia Awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters at University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield Visiting Professor at University of Brighton School of Art

Lives and works in Hertfordshire, England


SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 1946 1948 1950 1956 1957 1958 1961 1962 - 1963

1963 1968 1970 - 1971 1971 1972 1976 1977 1982 1986 1987 1988 1990 1992 1992 - 1995 1993 1996 1997

2000 - 2001 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2010

Grant’s Bookshop, Edinburgh Galleria Michelangelo, Florence, Italy subsequently shown at Galleria Sandri, Venice, Italy First solo exhibition at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London with subsequent exhibitions to date First American solo exhibition at Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA First retrospective exhibition at Wakefield City Art Gallery, Liverpool, touring to Nottingham University, Nottingham; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, USA Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, USA 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 Galleria La Medusa, Rome, Italy British section of 7th Bienal de Bellas Artes de São Paolo, Brazil, where awarded prize for Best Foreign Painter Retrospective exhibition at The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh 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 2nd Triennale of World Art, Delhi, India Edinburgh International Festival, retrospective exhibition at RSA Galleries, Edinburgh, touring to Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany and Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany Galleria La Medusa, Rome, Italy Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens, Greece Retrospective exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong FIAC, Paris, France Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York, USA FIAC, Paris, France South West Galleries Association, touring eight cities in Scotland Galleri G, Helsingborg, Sweden Galerie Bork, Copenhagen, Denmark Retrospective exhibition at McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol 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 Retrospective exhibition at Barbican Art Gallery, London ACA Galleries, New York, USA Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Drawing retrospective at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, touring to University of Brighton Gallery, Brighton Thomas Dane Gallery, London 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 and Gimpel Fils, London Retrospective exhibition at Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen, The Netherlands Howard Gardens Gallery, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff James Hyman Fine Art, London Retrospective exhibition at Tate St Ives, Cornwall ACA Galleries, New York, USA Galleria Morone, Milan, Italy 108 Fine Art, Harrogate Thomas Dane Gallery, London ACA Galleries, New York, USA Gimpel Fils, London and James Hyman Gallery, London, touring to Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin, Ireland and Galerie Gimpel & Müller, Paris, France Gimpel Fils, London to celebrate 90th birthday of the artist


PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Australia Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane Queensland Art Gallery Austria Museum des 20.Jahrhunderts, Vienna Brazil Museu de Arte Contemporânea, São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro Canada Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa France Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, St Paul-de-Vence Germany Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach Stäatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden Städtische Kunstgalerie, Bochum Ireland Arts Council of Ireland, Dublin Trinity College, Dublin Israel Museum of Tel Aviv Italy Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice The Netherlands Gemeente Museum, The Hague Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven New Zealand City of Auckland Art Gallery Norway Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo National Gallery, Oslo Portugal Berardo Museum, Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lisbon Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigão, Fundacão Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon South Africa Iziko South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria South Korea National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul Sweden Konstmuseet, Gothenbugh Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Switzerland Kunsthaus, Berne Kunsthaus, Zurich Schaulager, Münchenstein, Basel United Kingdom Arts Council of Great Britain, London Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast Birmingham Museum Art Gallery, Birmingham British Council, London Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford City Art Centre, Edinburgh City Art Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Wakefield City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Portsmouth Contemporary Arts Society, London Edinburgh College of Art Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull Fitzwilliam Gallery, Cambridge Fleming Collection, London Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds Lillie Art Museum, Glasgow Maclaurin Gallery and Museum, Rozelle, Ayr Museum and Art Gallery, Kettering Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, Norwich Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, London Scottish Art Council, Edinburgh Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton Tate, London Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne Ulster Museum, Belfast University of Brighton University of Cambridge University of Durham University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne Victoria and Albert Museum, London Wakefield Art Gallery Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester United States Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Art Museum, Phoenix Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, Cambridge Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington Institute of Arts, Detroit Metropolitan Museum, New York Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Museum of Modern Art, New York Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Norman Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma Princeton University, Princeton The St Louis Art Museum, St Louis Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford Washington University Gallery of Art, St Louis Washington University Museum, Washington Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven


INDEX 1. Man with Fish Signs

1949

Oil on board

100 x 70 cm

2. Balanced Cubes

1951

Oil on board

33 x 22 cm

3. Structure No.2

1951

Oil on board

47 x 61 cm

4. Black Column for a Mathematician

1953

Oil on board

192 x 152.5 cm

5. Fetish with a Yellow Background

1954

Oil on board

101.5 x 122 cm

6. Untitled

1954

Oil on board

62 x 74 cm

7. Untitled

1955

Oil on board

54 x 43 cm

8. Fate of the Lovely Dragon

1955

Oil on board

160 x 206 cm

9. Boomerang No.2

1956

Oil on board

160 x 193 cm

10. Study for the Temple No.4 (White)

1956

Oil on board

101.5 x 122 cm

11. Creation of Eve

1957

Oil on canvas

175 x 244 cm

12. The Divination

1957

Oil on canvas

213.5 x 173 cm

13. Game for Girls

1957

Oil on board

101.5 x 122 cm

14. Red Ball Stopper

1957

Oil on board

35 x 51.5 cm

15. Red Ball and Yellow Ribbon No.1

1957

Oil on board

24.5 x 14 cm

16. Guardians of the Heart

1958

Oil on board

101 x 122 cm

17. Green Stuff for the Birds to Peck

1958

Oil on paper

28 x 45 cm

18. Mystery of the Blue Cloud

1959

Oil on paper

42 x 53.5 cm

19. Nest of the Golden Hippo

1960

Oil on paper on canvas

42 x 53.5 cm

20. Sea Chariot No.1

1960

Oil on paper on board

42.5 x 54 cm

21. Study from the Red Temple No.3

1960

Oil on canvas

122 x 101.5 cm

22. Heavenly Bridge No.3

1960

Oil on canvas

101.5 x 122 cm

23. Parrot Idly Dreaming

1960

Oil on canvas

101.5 x 122 cm

24. Dolly Scent

1962

Oil on canvas

122 x 152.5 cm

25. The Hermit Gets the Message

1962

Oil on canvas

183 x 152.5 cm

26. Klippety Klop

1962

Oil on canvas

152.5 x 122 cm

27. Night and Day Marvel

1962

Oil on canvas (diptych)

183 x 305 cm

28. Tasty Morsel for a Monkey

1963

Oil on canvas

152.5 x 122 cm

29. Delicious Morsel for the Crocodile No.2

1963

Oil on canvas

122 x 213.5 cm

30. Rabbit Moves

1964

Oil on canvas

51 x 61 cm

31. Flowery Gate

1967

Oil on canvas

51 x 61 cm

32. Catch the Tail Find the Fish No.1

1967

Oil on board

51 x 61 cm

33. Untitled Film Set

1968

Oil on board

122 x 152.5 cm


Unique Woolen Rug 1975 150 x 200 cm / 59 x 78 ¾ inches Designed and woven by Alan and Bili Davie

Published to accompany the exhibition Alan Davie: To Uncover the Hidden Unknown, 16 June - 22 July 2011 © ALAN WHEATLEY ART, 22 Mason’s Yard, Duke Street St. James’s, London SW1Y 6BU All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without first seeking the written permission of the copyright holders and of the publisher.

Images © Alan Davie Photography © Paul Tucker Essay © Douglas Hall Research and catalogue design by Iwona Chroscielewska Print production by Oldacres

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22 Mason’s Yard T: +44 (0)20 7930 1262

Duke Street St. James’s F: +44 (0)20 7839 8043

London SW1Y 6BU E: contact@alanwheatleyart.com

United Kingdom W: alanwheatleyart.com


DOUGLAS HALL (born 1926 of Scottish parents) left his post as Deputy Director of Manchester City Art Galleries to be first Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1961. One of his first priorities was to represent in the Collection the best of Scottish artists who had left for the south in search of greater recognition and sales. The first major Davie to enter it was in 1964. After Hall's retirement in 1986, Alan Davie made generous gifts to the Gallery. During his tenure at the Gallery, Douglas Hall made an important international collection and laid the foundation for the vibrant, extensive operation it has since become. Always the individualist, Hall's sympathy for untrendy art was shown in the book that occupied his retirement, Art in Exile (Sansom & Co., 2008) about Polish artists in post-war Britain. He lives, in a village in the Scottish Borders.

ALAN WHEATLEY has been collecting modern art for many years before opening the premises in London, in the heart of St. James’s at Mason’s Yard in 2009 with an inaugural exhibition of early paintings by renowned British artist John Hoyland, entitled John Hoyland: Unmistakable Identity.

Alan Wheatley Art specializes in British and International Modern Painting and Sculpture from the latter half of the Twentieth Century. The artists featured at Alan Wheatley Art are represented in public collections and museums throughout the world.

Jacket illustration: The Divination (Cat.12)


_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22 Mason’s Yard T: +44 (0)20 7930 1262

Duke Street St. James’s F: +44 (0)20 7839 8043

London SW1Y 6BU E: contact@alanwheatleyart.com

United Kingdom W: alanwheatleyart.com

ALAN DAVIE.:To Uncover the Hidden Unknown  

Exhibition catalogue

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