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Artist Bio: Warren Davis (1932-1974)

The color field paintings of Warren Davis stand among the most aesthetically refined expressions of their genre. Characterized by superimposed layers of transparent color poured onto unprimed canvas, the artist’s mature works merge the forceful expression of chance with an unerring ability to ensure the even dispersal of pictorial incident over the entire field of his paintings.

 

In the estimation of Elaine de Kooning, “Davis’ work has always been remarkably consistent, expressing a sense of wholeness and clarity, of tension within tranquility – no loose ends, no raw colors, no indecisiveness.” Marked by a serene extravagance and rigorously controlled gesturality, the paintings of Warren Davis achieve a startling balance between brilliant hues and icy darks to create a form of unimpeded expression manifest in broad curtains of astounding chromatic complexity. His highly individualized formal architecture led the MacArthur winning critic and curator Dave Hickey to attest, “the gestures are deployed evenly over the canvas, and the intensity is controlled with a confidence and facility which gives the paintings an unnerving sense of spontaneous factuality. They seem to say, ‘This is what I did today—isn’t it beautiful?’”

 

Born in Amarillo, TX, in 1932, Davis studied at the University of Texas and at Oklahoma State University before arriving at his unique aesthetic under the guidance of Amarillo’s Dord Fitz, a painter credited by de Kooning as one of the most perceptive art teachers of his generation. Beginning in 1962, he lived and worked in New York City, where he achieved critical and commercial success. Relocating to Tesuque, New Mexico, in 1971, he continued to paint steadily and intensely until his premature passing in 1974. His works are included in notable public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; and the Amarillo Museum of Art, which held a posthumous retrospective including 123 of the artist’s paintings in 1975.



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