Alan Davie 1920-2014

Alan Davie, Scottish painter and printmaker  trained as a painter at Edinburgh College of Art from 1938 to 1940. After coming into contact with modernism at exhibitions held in London of works by Picasso (1945; V&A) and Paul Klee (1945; Tate), he explored a diverse range of activities: 1949 to 1953 he earned his living by making jewellery and in 1947 he worked as a jazz musician, an activity he continued in later life. He wrote poetry during the early 1940s.

He also taught: first, children for a while in Edinburgh, then at the Central School of Art in London in the 1950s; and he took up a Gregory fellowship at Leeds University (1956-59) – the fellowship had been founded by Peter Gregory, the creator of the art book publisher Lund Humphries, which, in 1967, would produce a monograph by Alan Bowness on Davie. In 1950, Davie had his first exhibition in London with Gimpel Fils and from then on had the support of both the gallery and the Gimpel family.

In 1971 he made his first visit to the island of St Lucia, where he began to spend half of each year and which brought Caribbean influences on his art. Since the 60s, Davie had owned a house near Land’s End in Cornwall, and in 2003 a retrospective, Jingling Space  was held at Tate St Ives. He was appointed CBE in 1972 and elected a senior Royal Academician in 2012.

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