It’s Day 230 and there were a few artists I was wanting to do a tribute to, but then I saw Gene Davis’s work and had gotten some new “artist’s” tape that I wanted to try out so I decided to give his tribute a shot. It was a little better using this special tape, but not really. I think this piece turned out a little better than the other pieces similar to this, but it was still so difficult! My respect for this movement and style still continues to grow. Join me in honoring Gene Davis today. 🙂
Gene Davis (August 22, 1920 – April 6, 1985) was an American painter known especially for his paintings of vertical stripes of color.
Davis was born in Washington D.C. in 1920 and spent nearly all his life there. Before he began to paint in 1949, he worked as a sportswriter, covering the Washington Redskins and other local teams. Working as a journalist in the late 1940s, he covered theRoosevelt and Truman presidential administrations, and was often President Truman’s partner for poker games. His first art studio was in his apartment on Scott Circle; later he worked out of a studio on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Davis’s first solo exhibition of drawings was at the Dupont Theater Gallery in 1952, and his first exhibition of paintings was at Catholic
University in 1953. A decade later he participated in the “Washington Color Painters” exhibit at the Washington Gallery of Modern Artin Washington, DC, which traveled to other venues around the US, and launched the recognition of the Washington Color School as a regional movement in which Davis was a central figure.
The Washington painters were among the most prominent of the mid-century color field painters. Though he worked in a variety of media and styles, including ink, oil, acrylic, video, and collage, Davis is best known by far for his acrylic paintings (mostly on canvas) of colorful vertical stripes, which he began to paint in 1958. The paintings typically repeat particular colors to create a sense of rhythm and repetition with variations.
One of the best-known of his paintings, “Black Grey Beat” (1964), owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum reinforces these musical comparisons in its title. The pairs of alternating black and grey stripes are repeated across the canvas, and recognizable even as other colors are substituted for black and grey, and returned to even as the repetition of dark and light pairs is here and there broken by sharply contrasting colors.
In 1972 Davis created Franklin’s Footpath, which was at the time the world’s largest artwork, by painting colorful stripes on the street in front
of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the world’s largest painting, Niagara (43,680 square feet), in a parking lot in Lewiston, NY. His “micro-paintings”, at the other extreme, were as small as 3/8 of an inch square.
For a public work in a different medium altogether, he designed the color patterns of
the “Solar Wall,” a set of tubes filled with dyed water and backlit by fluorescent lights, at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Davis began teaching in 1966 at the Corcoran School of Art, where he became a permanent member of the faculty. His works are in the collections of, among others, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, and theSmithsonian American Art Museum.
He died on April 6, 1985 in his hometown of Washington, DC.
Biography is from wikipedia.
…look at the painting in terms of individual colors. In other words, instead of simply glancing at the work, select a specific color such as yellow or a lime green, and take the time to see how it operates across the painting. Approached this way, something happens, I can’t explain it. But one must enter the painting through the door of a single color. And then, you can understand what my painting is all about.
–Gene Davis in an interview with Donald Wall, in Donald Wall, ed., Gene Davis
(New York, Praeger Publishers, 1975) p.31
I hope you enjoy my piece today! It was really difficult, but I enjoyed picking out the colors and attempting to paint as straight as I could. 🙂 I will see you tomorrow on Day 231.