ALAN DAVIE (b. 1920)
James Alan Davie always seemed to have the most majestic beard you will ever witness! Born in Grangemouth, attended Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 to 1940. He became interested in exotic art at an early age, played several instruments, discovered jazz and joined the Cam Robbie jazz band as a saxophonist.
While serving in the Royal Artillery between 1941 and 1946, Davie
was inspired by reading James Joyce to write poetry himself.
On his return to London, he became more and more influenced by the
work of Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso. His work became close to Abstract Expressionism with the tradition of early 20th-century Scottish modern art thrown into the melting pot.
After his marriage to the artist Janet Gaul, Davie
abandoned painting for jazz for a while. In 1948 he met Peggy Guggenheim,
who introduced him to early American Abstract Expressionism. Much impressed by the work of Jackson Pollock, Davie returned to painting. From then on a semi-automatic method of painting would be characteristic of Davie's approach to
his work. Art Establishment approval of Davie's painting duly arrived when
Guggenheim's purchased of one of his works.
In 1950 Davie had his first one-man London show, at
Gimpel Fils, where he continued to show regularly. In 1956 he
went to New York. Primitive art now inspired him to a powerfully gestural approach to painting. Action Painting became important and Davie
sought to contact the conventional painting process by working rapidly on the floor, adding pieces of rubbish, dripping paint and turning pictures around and over.
For the last 50 years, Davie has regularly exhibited at one-man shows and his work is now owned by many of the great collections of the world including the Tate.
In 1972 he was awarded the C.B.E.. He now lives in the UK
with his wife Bili.
He died April 5 2014.