Alan Davie

Works | Biography
Five of Diamonds

Alan Davie was born in 1920 and died in 2014. He was arguably Scotland’s most respected painter of the post-war era, winning international acclaim from both critics and fellow artists, among them Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and David Hockney.

Davie was probably the first British painter to appreciate the significance of American Abstract Expressionism, having seen Pollock’s work in Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice in 1948, an experience that inspired him to paint with more improvisation and on a much larger scale.

But Davie was making a name for himself abroad, and in 1956 he paid his first visit to New York. This proved to be his making: encouraged by Rothko and Pollock, de Kooning and Franz Kline, in the same year he had his first New York exhibition; it was a sell-out, most of the paintings being bought by major institutions, MoMA among them.

Davie returned to Britain to take up a fellowship at Leeds University, and an exhibition at the Wakefield Art Gallery transferred to the Whitechapel in London in 1958, launching him as a significant figure in the British avant-garde, a position he shared with William Gear, who was associated with the European COBRA group. David Hockney was among the many young British artists influenced by Davie, whose exotic cloaks and long beard made him something of a shamanic figure .

Davie was appointed CBE in 1972 and elected a senior Royal Academician in 2012. His works are held in public collections worldwide, among them the Tate Gallery, the Gulbenkian Foundation and MoMA in New York.

From The Telegraph obiturary.