I was re-watching Antonioni’s Blow Up the other night and I thought, “I’ll be darned if that isn’t an Alan Davie painting hanging in David Hemmings’ studio.” And so I looked it up, and so it was. And it was then that I found out Alan Davie had passed on back in April.
For my money he was one of the greats. I like his paintings a lot, particularly the ones he did from the 1970s onward, after he tired of abstract expressionism. I like that he went his own way and didn’t seem to care too much that his popularity, and sales, took a bit of a hit for it. I also like the fact he was an unrepentant bohemian of the old school, with his jazz, poetry, and Jungian mysticism.
I’d mentioned him once before in this blog, in a post I wrote last year called “Painting and Dumb Ideas“. In that regard, it was interesting to see my sentiments echoed by Michael McNay in the Guardian, who wrote
Many of the greater painters of the 20th century have succeeded despite working out of a mishmash of oddball beliefs – Kandinsky and Mondrian among them. Davie falls into that tradition of artists who wished away the high renaissance and the enlightenment and the drift of consequent history, but whose art nevertheless prospered.
So I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way. Farewell, Mr. Davie, and I’m sorry to see you go. You left us a lot of paintings, but I think we could have used a few more.