Brad Davis

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Brad Davis
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Born (1942-04-24) April 24, 1942 (age 79)
Duluth, Minnesota
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationBA in Fine Art
Alma mater
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Minnesota
Occupation
  • Artist
  • Painter
Years active1972-present
OrganizationFort Street Studio
TitleCo-founder
Spouse(s)Deborah Howland
Children1
Parents
  • Dr. Raymond D. E. Davis (father)
  • Greta A. Hofer Davis (mother)

Brad Davis (born 1942) is an American artist known primarily as a painter, but also for work in printmaking, sculpture, installations, textiles, and pottery. In addition, he is the co-founder, with Janis Provisor, of Fort Street Studio – a luxury carpet company specializing in innovative hand-knotted carpets. Over many years of creative activity, he has investigated religious and cross-cultural symbolism, art and crafts of Persia, India, and China, and the design and manufacture of traditional hand-knotted carpets. He first came to prominence with a series of paintings in protest of the Viet Nam War called the “Nazi Paintings,” which were shown at the Whitney Annual in 1972. Later, he was one of the founders of an artistic movement that came to be known as “Pattern and Decoration.” Davis exhibited the “Nazi Paintings” as the last show in 1972 at 98 Greene Street Gallery, established by Holly Solomon, and shortly thereafter, in 1975, a group of Decorative paintings at the first show in the newly opened Holly Solomon Gallery. This gallery became the home and battleground of the then called “P & D” movement.

Showing extensively during the 1970s and 1980s in American and European museums and galleries with other artists in this genre. In 1983, Davis moved near Aspen, Colorado and began to investigate and paint the mountain landscape, culminating in a joint exhibition with Janis Provisor at the Aspen Art Museum.

In 1993, Davis traveled to Hong Kong and China with his family and while there made a series of traditional Chinese woodblock prints sponsored by Crown Point Press. But more significantly, Davis began a creative exploration of carpet design and manufacturing that led to the founding of Fort Street Studio, a luxury handmade carpet company.

Early life

Brad Davis was born April 24, 1942 in Duluth, Minnesota to Dr. Raymond D. E. Davis, a physician and surgeon, and Greta A. Hofer Davis, a retired nurse and homemaker. He grew up in Northern Minnesota until the age of 5 when he moved to Waseca, Minnesota where he graduated from High School in 1960. He attended St. Olaf College, Northfield Minnesota, University of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, and finally the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota where he received a bachelor's degree in Fine Art. He studied with Peter Busa (Painting) and Jerome Leibling (Photography). However, the defining event of his education was when his father, in frustration with his repeated transferring of schools, gave him the rest of the money he had set aside for his education, and said,” This is all you are getting, you are on your own.” This cash allowed him to paint steadily for one year which resulted in him winning the First Prize and Special Jury Award at the Minneapolis of Fine Art Biennale in 1965. Subsequently, he exhibited paintings in the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota Art Gallery in 1966. He moved to New York City in 1968 to pursue an art career. He married Deborah Howland in 1969 and had a son Jared, who is now an artisanal glassblower in Crawford, Colorado. They divorced in 1970. Davis worked as a studio assistant to George Sugarman, sculptor, for 3 years, and attributed his “true” art education to those years with Sugarman. He also supported himself as an electrician, builder, and art teacher at various institution in the New York area, like Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Fairleigh Dickenson University and Sarah Lawrence College.

Work

Davis experimented with several artistic trends in his early work - Hard Edge painting, Colorfield Abstraction, Lyrical Abstraction, and Graphic Symbolism. Davis found his artistic voice in a series of paintings inspired by Tibetan Tantric iconography that explored the deep-seated imagery of violence and domination. These phantasmagoric paintings were an attempt to embody these dark terrible forces, and by visualizing them consequently exorcise them from our psyche.

One of these paintings first exhibited in the Whitney Museum Annual in 1972 and another of painting of the series was purchase by the museum the following year. Because many of the paintings contained Nazi symbolism, they were not often understood or appreciated at the time. They were finally shown in 1972 at 98 Greene Street Gallery, a non-profit gallery founded by Holly and Horace Solomon.

But Davis found working on these paintings very difficult and painful, so he began to explore the use of symbolic ornamentation on many of New York's 19th and early 20th century buildings in his drawings and paintings. This led him to a deeper appreciation for the decorative impulse in art and design. Thus, turning from the human psyche's darker impulses to the celebratory, joyful and humorous impulses, his works took an about face turn into the highly playful and decorative works that he is most identified with during the 1970s and 1980s. This first exhibition of these works was at the newly founded Holly Solomon Gallery in Soho, NYC in 1975. During many subsequent exhibitions there and at other American and European galleries and museums, Davis created a fantasy world of animals and plants engaged in a fanciful play on human foibles and postures. He expanded his palette to bright complementary colors and surrounded the imagery with equally bright borders of polyester fabrics that shared the same palette as the acrylic paints he was using. Along with other members of the P&D movement he searched for ways to extend the expression of the decorative to other forms, media, and situations.

The grandest expression of these ideas was an installation created in collaboration with sculptor, Ned Smyth, in 1977 at the Solomon Gallery. While a soberer expression of the decorative, its theme was the restorative quality of the natural world. Amid stately concrete palm tree columns and arches where views of natural grandeur. High mountain peaks, floral splendor, mating peacocks, and water vistas inhabited by inquisitive deer. This exhibition was followed up by an additional collaboration with Ned Smyth in 1982 of large scale, brightly glazed, ceramic columns, planters and objects filled with flowers. Davis also during this period created exhibitions with printed wallpaper that augmented the drawings and paintings in the exhibition.

In the mid-1980s, Davis embarked on a series of fanciful landscape paintings inspired by his love of Classical Chinese painting. The strong decorative elements and fabric borders of his previous paintings were traded for a more realistic imagery and slightly tempered palette. Many works were long extended canvases referencing Chinese scroll paintings and painted with very large brushes and brooms that rendered the rocks and water imagery with dramatic energy. One of these paintings was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1983. A one-person exhibition of these landscapes was held at the Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1984.

In 1983, Davis married artist, Janis Provisor, who also exhibited at Holly Solomon gallery, and moved to Carbondale Colorado, near Aspen. There he set out to study and paint a real mountain landscape and to explore his love of Chinese painting. These works were winter compilations of drawings and photographs, the artist made during long hikes he made in the summer months. They were dark and dramatic in form and often very large in size. He completed 2 commissions. One, 3 paintings 14’x 8’ each for the Equitable Insurance Center, NY and, second, a mural 20’x 10’ for a law firm in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado landscape work was shown in a joint exhibition with Janis Provisor at the Aspen Art Museum which included a 36’ long panoramic painting that wrapped 180 degrees around a gallery. These paintings were painted with very strong contrast of light and large scale brush-work that conveyed the dynamic energy of rushing water and powerful rock formations.

Davis's interest in Chinese Painting while informing his work, also led him to curate an exhibition in 1986 at the Aspen Art Museum and Hofstra University Art Gallery titled “The Mountain Retreat” with Arnold Chang, who was then head of Chinese Painting at Sotheby's. It was the first USA exhibition of Modern Chinese landscape painting and was reviewed favorably in the New York Times. At the same time that Davis was painting the Colorado landscape, he was included in a mid-career retrospective of his earlier work at the Whitney Museum called “5 Painters in New York” in 1984, and built a house with Janis Provisor and a local architect that won the American Institute of Architecture Award for Colorado, and was published in House & Garden and Casa Vogue magazines. This project in design formed the foundation for collaboration with his wife that has sustained their creative work into the present time.

In 1993–94, Davis and Provisor embarked on a year long trip to China, with the plan teach a semester as the first Western instructors in the Art Department at Chinese University in Hong Kong and to make Chinese woodblock prints in Hangzhou, China, and travel to interesting sites and cities in China. This simple plan was complicated by a wish to make a single silk carpet for their loft in New York. What started as a wish, changed the course of their creative lives into a 9-year process of inventing new techniques of carpet design and patterning making. This required them enlisting and training experienced carpet weavers and dyers in a whole new vocabulary of carpet design based on the transformation of a watercolor, with all its nuance, into a hand-knotted silk carpet. The initial phase took 2 ½ years to produce the first carpets and then building a company that could sustain production, sell and market this innovative new style of carpet. The company, Fort Street Studio, has over 20 years of success and will be documented in a Rizzoli book publication in 2020.

After devoting the last 25 years to building and sustaining Fort Street Studio, Davis has recently, in the last 5 years, returned to the studio, and developed a large group of paintings using traditional ink, brush, paper, and mounting techniques. While inspired by his 50-year study of Chinese ink painting, they have their own voice that is distinctly Modernist and personal in its choice of subject and manner. Davis's intent is to develop a “natural” line that is expressive and interesting in itself apart from the subject depicted.

Exhibitions

Selected one-person exhibitions

  • 98 Greene Street Loft, New York, 1972
  • Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1975
  • The Garden, a collaboration with Ned Smyth, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York 1977
  • Mayor Gallery, London, England, 1979
  • Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1979
  • Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1981
  • Ceramics Collaboration, with Ned Smyth, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1982
  • Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1983
  • Brad Davis/Janis Provisor, McIntosh-Drysdale Gallery, Houston, Texas, 1984
  • The Pines: Brad Davis, The Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio (catalogue), 1984
  • Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1986
  • Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, 1986
  • Landscapes: A Collaboration in Bronze and Ceramic, with Brad Miller, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1987
  • Brad Davis: Hanging Lake Falls Series, Fahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 1988
  • New Landscapes, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1989
  • Drawings, Tavelli Gallery, Aspen, Colorado, 1989
  • Brad Davis, Gloria Luria Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, 1990
  • Recent Paintings, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1992
  • Founded Fort Street Studio with Janis Provisor to design and produce artistic silk carpets, 1994
  • Davis & Provisor Experimental Carpets, Le Caden Gallery, Hong Kong, 1995
  • Fort Street Studio, Stark Carpet, Design Week, New York, 1996
  • Fort Street Studio new designs, Kaikado Gallery, New York, 1998
  • Fort Street Studio, David Gill Galleries, London, 2000
  • Opened Fort Street Studio showroom in New York, 2002
  • Fort Street Studio, David Gill Galleries, London, 2003
  • New Designs of Fort Street Studio, Alberto Levi Gallery, Milan, 2005

Selected group exhibitions

  • Walker Art Center Biennial, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1964
  • Some Young Minnesota Artists, University of Minnesota Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1966
  • Annual Exhibition, Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1972
  • American Drawings ’63-’73, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1973
  • Fantastics and Eccentrics, Museum of the State University of New York at Troy, 1974
  • Group Show, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1975
  • Contemporary American Artists from New York, Artworks Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1976
  • Collection in Process – Milton Brutton and Helen Herrick, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1977
  • Painting ‘75/’76/’77, Sarah Lawrence College Gallery, Bronxville, New York; Museum of the American Foundation for the Arts, Miami, Florida; The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (catalogue), 1975-1977
  • Landscape/Cityscape, Art Gallery, State University College, Potsdam, New York (catalogue), 1978
  • Pattern and Decoration, Sewall Art Gallery, Rice University, Houston, Texas,1978
  • Albrecht Habermann Gallery, Cologne, Germany, 1979
  • Patterning and Decoration on Paper, The Mayor Gallery, London, 1979
  • Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri, 1980
  • Les Nouveaux Fauves – Die Neuen Wilden, Neue Galerie/Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen, Germany (catalogue), 1980
  • Dekor, Mannheimer Kunstverrin, Mannheim, Germany; Amerika House, Belin, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England (catalogue), 1980
  • Nouvelle Tendance de la Peinture Americaine, Daniel Templon, Paris France, 1980
  • New York Pattern Show, Merwin Gallery, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1980
  • Drawings: The Pluralist Decade, Institute of Contemporary Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1980
  • The Pluralist Decade, The United States Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy; Kunstforeningen Museum, Copenhagen, Sweden; Henie Onstad Museum,
  • Onstad, Norway; Biblioteca Nationale, Madrid, Spain; Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Spain (catalogue), 1980
  • Decoration, San co Art Institute, San co, California, 1980
  • Davis, Smyth, MacConnel, Holly Solomon Editions, New York; Audrey Stroll Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee, 1980
  • A New Bestiary: Animal Imagery in Contemporary Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art at the Virginal Museum, Richmond, Virginia, 1981
  • Out of New York, Root Art Center, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, 1981
  • Alternatives in Retrospect: An Historical Overview 1969-75, The New Museum, New York (catalogue), 1981
  • The Friends of the Corcoran Gallery of Art 20th Anniversary Exhibition, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1981
  • New Directions, a selection by Sam Hunter from the Commodities Corporation Collection: Sidney Janis Gallery, NewYork; Museum of Modern Art, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Oklahoma; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama (catalogue), 1981
  • The Pattern Principle, Ohio University, Lancaster, Ohio (catalogue), 1981
  • Landscape: Sam Cady, Brad Davis, Roy Lichtenstein, Neil Jenney and Joe Zucker, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1981
  • Aspects of Post-Modernism: Decorative and Narrative Art, Squibb Gallery, E.R. Squibb & Sons, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey (catalogue), 1981
  • ICA Street Sights 2, (Window) Institute of Contemporary Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (catalogue), 1981
  • Pattern: Painting, South Hill Park Arts Center, Bracknell, Berkshire, England, 1981
  • Recent Drawings on a Large Scale, Stockton State College, Pomona, New Jersey, 1982
  • Currents: A New Mannerism, SVC/Fine Arts Gallery, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, 1982
  • Aspects of Post-Modernism, Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; The university of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery of Art, Missouri, 1982
  • New York Now, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany; Kunstverein, Munich, Germany; Musee Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne; Kunstverin Fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (catalogue), 1982
  • Decoration and Representation, Alberto College of Art Gallery, Alberto, Canada (catalogue), 1982
  • Ornamentalism: The New Decorativeness in Architecture and Design, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York (catalogue), 1982
  • New Decorative Works from the Collection of Norma and William Roth, Loch Haven Art Center, Orlando, Florida (catalogue), 1983
  • New Decorative Art, The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts (catalogue), 1983
  • Back to the USA, Kuntmuseum Lucerne, Switzerland; Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany; Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany; traveled through 1984 (catalogue), 1983
  • Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1983
  • Inaugural Exhibition, Part I: A Historical Overview, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1983
  • Five Painters in New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (catalogue), 1984
  • Artistic Collaboration in the Twentieth Century, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (catalogue) 1984
  • The Innovative Landscape, Holly Solomon, New York, 1984
  • Summer Group Exhibition, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1984
  • A New Beginning, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York, 1985
  • Artistic Collaboration in the Twentieth Century, The J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, 1985
  • Picture Frame, Frame Picture, Gabrielle Bryers, New York, 1985
  • Anniottanta, Bologna, Italy (catalogue), 1985
  • Gloria Luria Gallery, Miami, Florida, 1986
  • Paysages Contemporains, Galerie Isy Brachot, Brussels, 1986
  • Black & White, organized through The Museum of Modern Art Advisory, New York, 1986
  • Made in China, Organized through The Museum of Modern Art Advisory, New York, 1986
  • Panoramas and Prospects, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1987
  • Americana, Groniger Museum, The Netherlands, 1987
  • The Fabric Workshop: A Decade of Pattern, The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1987
  • Intimate Environments, McIntosh Drysdale Gallery, Washington, DC, 1988
  • The Unnatural Landscape, Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1988
  • Land, ACA Contemporary, New York, 1988
  • American Baroque, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York (catalogue), 1988
  • Contemporary Landscape, The Art Museum of Florida State University, Miami, Florida (catalogue), 1989
  • The Transamerica Collection, San co, California (catalogue), 1989
  • The Natural Image: Nature as Image in Contemporary Art, Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Stamford, Connecticut (catalogue), 1989
  • Menagerie, General Electric, Fairfield, Connecticut, organized by The Museum of Modern Art, Art Lending Service, 1990
  • Re-entry into Painting, 1969–1974, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1990
  • Pattern and Decoration Revisited, The Mayor Gallery, London, 1990
  • Landscape Paintings, Annina Nosei Gallery, New York, 1991
  • In Bloom, ABC, New York, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, Art Lending Service, 1991
  • The Midtown Flower Show, Midtown Payson Galleries, New York; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, 1992
  • Brad Davis/Janis Provisor, at Art Asia Hong Kong ’93, presented by Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong, 1993
  • Davis/Provisor recent work, Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong, 1994
  • New Woodblock Prints from China, Brad Davis & Janis Provisor, Crown Point Press Gallery, San co, 1995
  • Fort Street Studio exhibition, Architectural Digest, Home & Now, New York, 1999
  • Fort Street Studio New Designs, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York, 2000
  • Fort Street Studio new designs, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York, 2001
  • Pattern & Decoration, Rosemund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica, California, 2003

Interviews

Notable public collections

  • Birmingham Art Gallery, Birmingham, England
  • Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
  • Groningen Museum, Groningen, Netherlands
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Neue Galerie/Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen, Germany
  • Nelson-Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Weatherspoon Gallery, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

References

External links

This article "Brad Davis" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.