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ALAN DAVIE (born 1920, Grangemouth, Scotland) is one of Britain’s most renowned and internationally acclaimed living artists, whose career spans seven decades. A multi-faceted creative spirit, Davie has created his own unique artistic language, related to the diversity of his interests in world cultures, primitive art, Zen Buddhism, modern music and gliding. Distinguished by spontaneity, exuberant colour and improvisation, Davie's work has been shown frequently for almost 70 years and his paintings have been included in some of the most eminent private and public collections around the world.

Painting is a much more mysterious Art than is generally believed […] a picture is no longer of necessity a beautiful thing to live with or to look at (beautiful in the generally acknowledged sense) … it must be a thing of more fundamental value, a thing of character and imbued with a power of its own, sometimes even a brutal or destructive power, but a life that is strong and growing and creative itself … a thing which should be looked at with a different mentality … a thing exciting and often even disturbing or frightening, yet having a beauty which is beyond beautiful.

Alan Davie (extract from his travel journal, Florence, August 1948)

This catalogue has been published to accompany the exhibition at Alan Wheatley Art Alan Davie: The (Wild) Eye of Wonder. Early Paintings 1945-1970 9 April – 23 May 2014


ALAN DAVIE The (Wild) Eye of Wonder


‘You ask if my life has changed. There is little or no change… all is as was with much more freedom… I am free as the four winds.’ Alan Davie, 5 July 1942 (from a letter to his parents)


THE (WILD) EYE OF WONDER. REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF ALAN DAVIE In the summer of 2011 Alan Wheatley Art, London put on the show Alan Davie: To Uncover the Hidden Unknown. Featuring a selection of work from 1949 to 1968 the exhibition generated a catalogue essay by Douglas Hall, once eminent Keeper of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and a long-time expert on, and champion of, Davie’s art. As Hall noted of the thirty-plus works in what he rightly deemed an important exhibition: “The best paintings of Alan Davie reach out to seize the eye, the imagination and the empathetic faculty.” This second show of Davie at Alan Wheatley Art is as striking in overall quality – if not more so – than its predecessor. Once again, a choice selection has been made, this time of work from 1945 to 1970. From the modernist lucidity of the translucent planes and interwoven structures of the somewhat Klee-like Transparent City (1945) through the stage-like spaces and sexually charged drama of Priest of the Red Temple (1956) to the melding of masklike frontality and mythopoetic tenderness in Green Dragon’s Puzzle (1970), the show offers a cornucopia of Davie at his tumultuous best. Image after image testifies to this painter’s signature ability to blend colour and drawing, structure and improvisation in jazz-flecked works of such ostensible spontaneity that, executed well over half a century ago as the majority of them were, it could seem as though they had left the artist’s studio mere minutes ago. I say “ostensible spontaneity” because it is important to remember to what extent Davie – in intuitive pursuit of both the resonant image and a sense of the beautiful that may lie far beyond conventional or outworn ideas of what is aesthetically pleasing – has always been prepared to paint out early passages, to rework relations of surface and depth, figure and ground. As with classic pieces of the same era by Willem de Kooning – say, Woman 1 (1950-1952), Gotham News (1955) or Easter Monday (1955-1956) – a considerable part of the pleasure afforded by works such as Underwater Swimmer, Study for the Temple (White) and Boomerang (all from 1956) lies in the implicit invitation they offer us to participate in the creative process. We are able, equally, to marvel at how Davie manages to keep the final image as fresh and open-ended as he does, while simultaneously sensing the fundamental dialectic of initial creation, responsive destruction and, ultimately, heightened creativity which fires so much of his art from these years. In a 2007 essay on Davie the critic William Feaver remarks that the central image in Bob Dylan’s famous lines from 1967 – ‘This wheel’s on fire, rolling down the road […] This wheel shall explode!” – “surely was a Davie wheel, for Davie freewheeling is one of the great conjurors of modern art.” These are apt images, suggesting as they do the sort of transformational energy which drives work of practically alchemical, or shamanic, power. In his 1928 text Surrealism and Painting André Breton – one of the most learned of men, who derived considerable stimulus from the art and culture of so-called prehistoric peoples – made evident his hope that art might once again become a thing of wonder, far-distant from long-cheapened factors of mimesis or illustration. He declared: “The eye exists in an untamed state. The only Witness of the Wonders of the Earth at an altitude of thirty metres and the Wonders of the Sea at a depth of thirty metres is the wild eye that can see colours only in terms of the rainbow. It presides over the conventional exchange of signals that the mind’s navigations would seem to require. But who will set up the ladder of vision?”


If Breton’s concluding metaphor conjures immediate thoughts of such a defining work by Joan Miró as The Escape Ladder (from the famous Constellations series of gouaches from 1940-1941) it is surely no less applicable to Davie. An artist who has spoken often of his love of tribal and prehistoric art, as well as of his empathy for the alchemists and the shamans of old – and for whom the sports of solo gliding and underwater swimming for many years furnished equivalences to, and inspiration for, his painting – Davie’s “wild eye” has led him to the richness of realms far beyond the prescriptive dualisms and sequential categorisations of monotheistic religion and Western art history alike. Like the COBRA artists of the late-1940s and early-1950s (e.g., Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, William Gear) the Davie of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s early set his compass in courageous quest of the regenerative heart of life’s labyrinth: one thinks of primitivistic, mythically fired works such as Rabbit’s Dream (1950), Birds for the Minotaur (1957) and Phantom Horse (1961). These were the great founding years in the restless odyssey of a singularly driven artist who, in his nineties now, continues to produce the most vibrant and challenging work – as documented, e.g., in Fiona Maddocks’s article on Davie for the Spring 2014 issue of the Royal Academy of Arts Magazine. Heroic, breakthrough times, these early Davie years: years when, travelling through post-war Europe on a shoe-string budget, the young artist and his wife Bili met Peggy Guggenheim by chance in Venice. The redoubtable collector bought some early pieces before then introducing Davie to London’s Gimpel Fils gallery. Later, Abstract Expressionists such as de Kooning, Pollock and Motherwell would greet the jazz-loving Davie as one of their own at his New York shows; and subsequent, critically acclaimed British and European touring retrospectives would confirm the esteem accorded Davie in 1963 by the award of the prize for Best Foreign Painter at the VII Bienal de São Paolo. The period covered by the present exhibition ended with Davie’s international reputation as high as ever, as a major retrospective of his work toured the USA and Canada in 1970-1971. In seeking to indicate something of the special quality – the electric charge – which runs right through the works in the present exhibition, one cannot do better than return to the Surrealist Breton and his fervent hope that the eye might pass from visual to visionary power. Davie is far indeed from being any card-carrying Surrealist. However: has any artist done more than Davie to effect such a transformation as that for which Breton wished, taking us deep into the potentially transformative depths of ourselves? Certainly, few artists of the post-Surrealist era (one thinks, above all others, of Miró) can have pursued the marvellous – the quality in art which Breton prized above all else – with such sustained albeit free-flowing vigour and intensity as Davie. A Northern, or Celtic, counterpart to the Mediterranean Miró (whom he acknowledges as an artist of surpassing consequence) Davie shares fully the late Catalan master’s horror of all prescriptive theorizing, or dogma. The various writings on art which Davie has had published over the years are all distinguished by a Zen-like openness to factors of chance and spontaneity. “Art,” Davie has said; “just happens, like falling in love.” As it happens, it can take us – like the four winds which Davie wrote about in a letter to his father in the early 1940s – way off the beaten track, far from the trampled crossways of so-called common sense. As the contemporary Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has suggested: “Deep in the forest, there is a clearing, which can only be found by someone who has lost their way.”


Like Miró, Davie’s pursuit of such a clearing, of the marvellous that may lie deep within matters unanticipated or unexpected, has been much inspired by a love of poetry: Walt Whitman’s pantheistic collection Leaves of Grass and the Zen-inflected meditations of the Far East have been of equal consequence for him. However, as the works in the present show make amply evident – and like Miró, once again – Davie’s pursuit of the poetic in paint eschews completely any notion of illustration or parallel correspondence. Such emblematic qualities as the work often attains are, rather, born of – and nurtured by – a fundamental sensitivity to the inherent plastic potentiality of painting itself. This, of course, is not to speak of the purity of painting, or some such, in the way that such an idea might be understood by an enthusiast of those studiously calibrated formal values of plane and tone, touch and accent which are often (but not necessarily accurately) associated with twentieth-century developments in the School of Paris. In an interview for Scottish television which took place in Glasgow’s McLellan Galleries during his major 1992 retrospective there, Davie graphically demonstrated the extent to which painting is often a matter of immersing himself in a primal generative act, to such an extent that he may emerge from the studio with paint all over him. “You just have to love paint, to want to touch it, feel it, eat it, even”, he said, “almost as though you were making love to a beautiful woman!” The Norwegian painter Frans Widerberg – a great admirer of Davie, and who has published a poetic homage to the Scot – has spoken of the search in his own art for what Widerberg calls “a sort of liberated erotic feeling”. It is exactly such a feeling which courses through so many of Davie’s works in the present show: witness the priapic ritualism of Priest of The Red Temple (1956), the mixture of floating ground and graphic suggestiveness in Hold Me (1961) or the boldly disposed colour and symbolic forms of Malecross (1967). Little wonder, then, that while writing about Davie in the early 1960s, the distinguished English critic David Sylvester spoke of “paintings without shame”. These are crucial words. Paintings without shame: paintings which offer, in equal measure, sensuous and spiritual stimulation shorn of all repression, all shibboleth. Paintings such as Altar of the Moon (1955), Altar of the Snakes (1956), Philosopher’s Stone (1957) and Monk’s Vision (1958) speak of what one might call the truly ecumenical in both art and life: like the irruptive, serpentine solos of a comparable figure, the jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins – whose portrait Davie painted in 1965, in typically non-illustrative manner – such “freedom of the four winds” as we sense in all such work partakes of a deep, ultimate albeit unquantifiable vein of harmony. In the work of this exceptional artist – where Apollo and Dionysus butt up against each other to transmutative effect, in new yet simultaneously ancient imaginal ground – the visionary is bodied forth in image after image of consummately realized yet rarely overworked visual quality, testimony to the happy fact that Davie’s eye is at once wild and deeply literate: the élan of his improvised graphic touch flows, often flies out of, and helps bring alive, painterly structures as satisfying in their diversely configured play of the asymmetric and the symmetric, the organic and the geometric, as they are spiritually enlivening in the open-ended boldness of their archetypal suggestiveness. The art of Alan Davie is indeed a thing of wonder. Michael Tucker March 2014


A REVERIE ON ALAN DAVIE AND PAINT Every exhibition of Davie is an invitation to consider the fundamentals of the artist painter’s trade, and this one is an excellent example. Davie never lets us forget that paintings are made of paint. Paint, that seemingly inert plastic substance, is really freighted with as many things as Masefield’s Quinquereme of Nineveh, most memorable of which were the Apes and Peacocks. Now there is an interesting metaphor for a painter. Paint is what carries to the viewer the heart and mind of the artist who deploys it. That much was the principle behind abstract expressionism. But the most obvious cargo in the ship of paint is colour. Colour is by nature and in nature come-hither, it is display, it is seduction. This is the peacock, but what of the ape? Ars simia naturae, as a classical age used to say – art is the ape of nature. And so it remained, and remains still for so-called traditional artists. From the postimpressionists onwards, artists began to rebel against the duty the world would lay upon them to imitate nature, or anything else. But the ape remains latent in every artist, often called upon, not easily smothered. The obvious truth is – the public likes it. The Surrealists knew this, but employed their considerable imitative skills to conjure up not reality, but fantasy. Davie is no surrealist but he loves fantasy on a quite different level, which he might call the dream world. In Alan Davie’s painting, the ape is carefully controlled. As a student he used to paint self-portraits, but direct imitation, let us call it representation now, has played a minimal part in his work. Colour on the other hand, always continues to entrance the artist and his public. If a painter denies his viewers the obvious pleasure of recognising ‘reality’ of some sort or another, what is left for him? Viewers will persist in trying to read something recognisable in his painting. They can only be frustrated by thoroughgoing abstraction, as willingly shown them by Russian and American modernists alike. This is not Davie’s way. He revels in the possibilities of a sort of sub-realism, namely the power of suggestion. Which – when we come to think of it – has been the language that the arts of music and poetry have always spoken. Davie, remember, remains a consummate musician and a skilful wordsmith. Davie does not mind the viewer trying to read things into his works. He relishes ambiguity, and never tries to give the works a ‘correct’ meaning. He cannot, for the ambiguity is his own. His titles, when they imply a ‘subject’ offer just another possible interpretation, albeit an ‘informed’ and intelligent one. The intelligent way of trying to read a situation, however, is to look for signs and symbols. Davie’s work is crammed with forms that look as if they could be accepted signs and symbols, and sometimes are. Those that are, are mainly derived from exotic religion or philosophy. In this area too, Davie prefers to keep us wondering. When is a symbol just a symbol, and when is it an ideogram, like a logo or a road-sign? On occasion as in Boomerang No.2 (1956) in this exhibition, a sign achieves such readability, and such prominence, that it provides an unambiguous title for the painting, a most unusual thing. These musings cannot try to chart the progress of Davie’s long partnership with paint, but only give clues to its tenor. Whatever else paint is freighted with, it is not with structure. This must be supplied by the hand that wields the brush. Structure is not the first Davie characteristic that comes to mind, but it is evident from the start.


Transparent City (1945), the earliest dated work here, is a most unusual exercise in pure structure. Generally, structure at first is mainly in the shape of grid patterns holding the whole together. Later this was replaced by a less visible form of control, an instinctive sense of placing, what in another context might be called mise-en-page. As has been observed, Davie’s late canvases may resemble screens on which are randomly assembled a selection of symbolic or quasi-symbolic ideograms. This is the period in Davie’s life when he is increasingly interested, some might say obsessed, by a desire to probe and manifest the spiritual life by entering it through the mental and visual imagery of ancient religions. If paint, brush and palette could have a vote, doubtless they would vote Alan Davie their favourite user. He is indeed the finest exponent in his generation of this highly charged medium. I make no apology for using the metaphor of the peacock to denote an important part of his work. The ape he has kept in the background, perhaps useful at times in the construction of ideograms, or pictograms. These creatures I have evoked are animals incapable of rational behaviour. They must be controlled, as paint must be controlled. It is the intellect of the artist that provides the structure, the visual and mental structure, within which paint can perform its manifold miracles. Alan Davie, in my view, is the leading miracle-worker among the artists of his period. If viewers can come to terms with Davie, they will no longer need to be numbered with those who ‘don’t understand modern art’. They will have learned that understanding can never eliminate ambiguity. And reviewing the life of this remarkable man, they will come to see that the abundant humanity and physicality of Alan Davie, so well attested by those who know him and by the photographic record, can never obscure the light of his fundamental spirituality.

Douglas Hall March 2014


1 Transparent City 1945 Oil on paper 23.5 x 50 cm / 9 ¼ x 19 ¾ inches Signed and dated lower left and inscribed with the title upper left

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

2 Rabbit’s Dream 1950 Oil on masonite 60 x 70.5 cm / 23 ¾ x 27 ½ inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.


3 Sculptural Organisms 1950 Oil on board 122 x 152.5 cm / 48 x 60 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.53

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Collection of David Thomson, Canada. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.38, ill.pl.15 (B+W). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.53.


4 Altar of the Moon 1955 Oil on board 160 x 241.5 cm / 63 x 95 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus 0.134

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. EXHIBITED 1956, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, cat.no.22. 1956, Guggenheim Painting Award – International Exhibition, Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris, France and Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, where awarded first prize in the British section. 1957, Recent Abstract Paintings, Manchester Arts Festival, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, cat.no.12. 1958, Alan Davie: First Retrospective Exhibition: Wakefield City Art Gallery, Wakefield, cat.no.39 touring to Nottingham University, Nottingham, cat.no.29; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, cat.no.40; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, cat.no.39. 1959, Recent Paintings by Seven British Artists, The British Council exhibition touring to Australia: Brisbane, Queensland; Sydney, New South Wales; Melbourne, Victoria; Hobart, Tasmania; Adelaide, South Australia; Perth, Western Australia; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, cat.no.4. 1960-1961, Recent Painting by Six British Artists, The British Council exhibition touring to Latin America: Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; Caracas, Venezuela and East Africa: Nairobi, Kenya; Makerere College, Uganda; Salisbury, Rhodes Gallery, South Rhodesia, cat.no.38. 1970-1971, Alan Davie: Retrospective USA, University Art Museum of Texas, Austin, USA touring to Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal, Canada; California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, USA, cat.no.8. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, 1956, cat.no.22. Exhibition catalogue, Recent Abstract Paintings, Manchester Arts Festival, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1957, cat.no.12. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Retrospective, Wakefield City Art Gallery, Wakefield, 1958, cat.no.39. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Retrospective, Nottingham University, Nottingham, 1958, cat.no.29. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Retrospective, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1958, cat.no.40. Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Retrospective, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1958, cat.no.39. Exhibition catalogue, Recent Paintings by Seven British Artists, The British Council, London, 1959, cat.no.4, ill. (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Recent Painting by Six British Artists, The British Council, London, 1960, cat.no.38,ill. (B+W). Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.103, ill. (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Retrospective USA, University Art Museum of Texas, Austin, USA, 1970, cat.no.8. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.134.


5 Altar of the Snakes 1956 Oil on board 152.5 x 122 cm / 60 x 48 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, USA. EXHIBITED

1957, Alan Davie, Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA, cat.no.5. LITERATURE

Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA, 1957, cat.no.5. Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.113 (catalogued as: Snake Altar).


6 Underwater Swimmer No.2 (Ochre) 1956 Oil on board 122 x 203 cm / 48 x 80 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Collection of David Thomson, Canada. EXHIBITED 1960, Bristol City Art Gallery, Bristol. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.117, ill. (B+W).


7 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, 157.5 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.


8 Priest of the Red Temple 1956 Oil on canvas 183 x 244 cm / 72 x 96 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.179

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, USA. Collection of Stanley J. Seeger Jr., UK. EXHIBITED 1956, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London. 1961, The Stanley J. Seeger Jr. Collection, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, USA, cat.no.60. 1992, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, touring to Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, cat.no.21. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, 1956. Exhibition catalogue, The Stanley J. Seeger Jr. Collection, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, USA, 1961, cat.no.60, ill. Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.141, ill.pl.32 (B+W). Exhibition catalogue, Solo: The Alan Davie Retrospective, Glasgow Museums, 1992, cat.no.21. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.179, ill.pl.55.


9 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.


10 Birds for the Minotaur 1957 Oil on paper on board 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number upper left Opus OG.57-8

11 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.


12 Philosopher’s Stone December 1957 Oil on board 152.5 x 198 cm / 60 x 78 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.235

PROVENANCE Mrs. Alan Davie. Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK. LITERATURE Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.186, ill. (B+W). Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.235.


13 Monk’s Vision May 1958 Oil on canvas 213.5 x 173 cm / 84 x 68 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso

PROVENANCE Collection of H. de Jong, Hengelo, The Netherlands. EXHIBITED 1960, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, cat.no.2. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie, Gimpel Fils, London, 1960, cat.no.2, ill. Alan BOWNESS (ed.). Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, cat.no.197.


14 Red’s Flutter 1959 Oil on paper 41.5 x 53.5 cm / 16 ¼ x 21 inches Signed and dated lower right; again signed, dated and inscribed with the title and numbered verso Opus OG.37F

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

15 Little Red’s Really Gone Blue 1959 Oil on paper on board 31 x 42 cm / 12 ¼ x 16 ½ inches Signed and dated upper left

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Collection of Major L. G. Tighe, UK. Private collection, UK.


16 Fly by Night June 1960 Oil on canvas 46 x 35.5 cm / 18 x 14 inches Signed and dated verso

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Collection of Monsieur Paul Marteau. Private collection, UK.

17 Shout for One Hundred and Ten Flags No.2 1960 Oil on paper on canvas 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed and dated upper left

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK.


18 Butterfly Stick 1961 Oil on paper on board 46 x 57 cm / 18 ¼ x 22 ½ inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number lower right Opus OG.61-68

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, UK.

19 Hold Me 1961 Oil on paper on board 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed and dated lower right and inscribed with the title and opus number upper centre Opus OG.61-74


20 Phantom Horse 1961 Oil on paper on canvas 41.5 x 53.5 cm / 16 Âź x 21 inches Signed and dated lower right, inscribed with the title and opus number lower left Opus OG.61-75

PROVENANCE The Artist. Private collection, Ireland.

21 Sweet Collision 1961 Oil on paper on board 42 x 53.5 cm / 16 ½ x 21 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title upper left

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Private collection, UK.


22 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.


23 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.

24 Malecross June 1967 Oil on canvas 51 x 61 cm / 20 x 24 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title and opus number verso Opus O.G.320

PROVENANCE ACA Galleries, New York, USA. EXHIBITED 2007, Alan Davie: Mystic Visions, ACA Galleries, New York, USA, no.8.


25 Green Dragon’s Puzzle No.2 January 1970 Oil on canvas 172.5 x 213.5 cm / 68 x 84 inches Signed, dated and inscribed with the title verso Opus O.625

PROVENANCE Gimpel Fils, London. Galerie Lambert Monet, Geneva, Switzerland. Private collection, Europe. EXHIBITED 1970, Alan Davie - Paintings 1969-1970, Gimpel Fils, London, no.14. 1971, Alan Davie, Galerie Lambert Monet, Geneva, Switzerland, 1971, (ill. on the exhibition invitation). 1973, Art du XXe Siècle - Collections genevoises, Musée d'Art de l'Histoire, Musée Rath et Cabinet des Estampes, Geneva, Switzerland, cat.no.126. LITERATURE Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie - Paintings 1969-1970, Gimpel Fils, London, 1970, cat.no.14, ill . Exhibition catalogue, Alan Davie: Paintings 1952-1972, Edinburgh International Festival, RSA Galleries, Edinburgh, 1972, ill. Exhibition catalogue, Art du XXe Siècle - Collections genevoises, Musée d'Art de l'Histoire, Musée Rath et Cabinet des Estampes, Geneva, Switzerland, 1973, cat.no.126. Douglas HALL and Michael TUCKER. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, cat.no.625, ill.pl.28 (B+W).


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 2011

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 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 Alan Davie: To Uncover the Hidden Unknown, Alan Wheatley Art, London


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. Transparent City

1945

Oil on paper

23.5 x 50 cm

2. Rabbit’s Dream

1950

Oil on masonite

60 x 70.5 cm

3. Sculptural Organisms

1950

Oil on board

122 x 152.5 cm

4. Altar of the Moon

1955

Oil on masonite

160 x 241.5 cm

5. Altar of the Snakes

1956

Oil on board

152.5 x 122 cm

6. Underwater Swimmer No.2 (Ochre)

1956

Oil on board

122 x 203 cm

7. Boomerang No.2

1956

Oil on board

160 x 193 cm

8. Priest of the Red Temple

1956

Oil on canvas

183 x 244 cm

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

1956

Oil on board

101.5 x 122 cm

10. Birds for the Minotaur

1957

Oil on paper on board

42 x 53.5 cm

11. Red Ball and Yellow Ribbon No.1

1957

Oil on board

24.5 x 14 cm

12. Philosopher’s Stone

1957

Oil on board

152.5 x 198 cm

13. Monk’s Vision

1958

Oil on canvas

213.5 x 173 cm

14. Red’s Flutter

1959

Oil on paper

41 x 53.5 cm

15. Little Reds Really Gone Blue

1959

Oil on paper on board

31 x 41.5 cm

16. Fly by Night

1960

Oil on canvas

46 x 35.5 cm

17. Shout for 110 Flags No.2

1960

Oil on paper on canvas

41 x 52 cm

18. Hold Me

1961

Oil on paper on card

42 x 53.5 cm

19. Butterfly Stick

1961

Oil on paper on board

46 x 57 cm

20. Phantom Horse

1961

Oil on paper on board

41.5 x 53 cm

21. Sweet Collision

1961

Oil on paper on board

42 x 53.5 cm

22. Dolly Scent

1962

Oil on canvas

122 x 152.5 cm

23. Rabbit Moves

1964

Oil on canvas

51 x 61 cm

24. Malecross

1967

Oil on canvas

51 x 61 cm

25. Green Dragon’s Puzzle No.2

1970

Oil on canvas

172.5 x 213.5 cm


Unique Woolen Rug 1974 152.5 x 210 cm / 60 x 82 ¾ inches Designed and woven by Alan and Bili Davie

Published to accompany the exhibition Alan Davie: The (Wild) Eye of Wonder. Early Paintings 1945-1970, 9 April – 23 May 2014 © 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.

Artworks © Alan Davie Photography © Paul Tucker Essay © Michael Tucker, Douglas Hall Research and catalogue design by Iwona Chrościelewska Print production by Oldacres, London

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 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


MICHAEL TUCKER D. Litt. (born 1948) was Professor of Poetics at the University of Brighton until his retirement in 2012. The many exhibitions he curated there included Alan Davie: The Quest For The Miraculous (1993), Alan Davie Drawings (1997) and Alan Davie: Small Paintings 1949-2000 (2001). The author, with Douglas Hall, of the monograph Alan Davie (Lund Humphries, London, 1992) he has written further about Davie in a number of catalogues and publications, including his own Dreaming With Open Eyes: The Shamanic Spirit In Twentieth-Century Art And Culture (Aquarian/HarperCollins, London & San Francisco, 1992), Printmaking Today (vol.14, nr.1, 2005) and Visual Culture In Britain (vol.11, nr.3, 2010). A regular contributor to Jazz Journal and the author of Jan Garbarek: Deep Song (Eastnote/University of Hull Press, 1998) he is a specialist in Nordic culture and in 2012 received the title Knight: Ist Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, for ‘outstanding service in the interest of Norway’.

DOUGLAS HALL (born 1926) 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. Douglas Hall has written frequently about Alan Davie. 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 with his wife Matilda in a village in the Scottish Borders.

Jacket illustration: Monk’s Vision (Cat.13)


______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 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, The (Wild) Eye of Wonder  

Exhibition catalogue, 9 April - 23 May 2014

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