Alan Davie, R.A. (1920-2014)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH COLLECTION
Alan Davie, R.A. (1920-2014)

House of Four Souls

Alan Davie, R.A. (1920-2014)
House of Four Souls
oil on board
40 x 48 in. (101 x 122 cm.)
Painted in 1951.
with Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, 1957, where purchased by the present owner.
A. Bowness (ed.), Alan Davie, London, 1967, p. 108, no. 43, illustrated.
D. Hall and M. Tucker, Alan Davie, London, 1992, pp. 168-9, no. 64, illustrated.
London, New Burlington Galleries, Daily Express Young Artists Exhibition, April - May 1955, no. 14.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

In 1941 Alan Davie was awarded the Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship while studying at Edinburgh College of Art. This was postponed due to military service and it was not until 1948 that he took the scholarship and embarked on a 'Grand Tour' of Europe. He visited his fellow Scot, William Gear, in Paris, where he admired the work of Bruegal and Bosch, hitched to Switzerland and saw the work of Arp and Ernst in Zurich and most significantly arrived in Venice for the first Biennale after the War. It was here that he experienced a synthesis of Romanesque architecture and early Christian mosaics with the work of Rothko, Pollock and Motherwell.

In December 1948 Davie exhibited at the Galleria Sandri in Venice. Peggy Guggenheim bought Music of the Autumn Landscape from this exhibition and an ensuing friendship allowed him further access to her extensive Surrealist collection, including Miró and Klee, as well as the New York School artists.

Davie returned to England, and in 1950 Peter and Charles Gimpel gave him his first one-man exhibition. It was not received well and inevitably Davie found success in New York before he was really accepted in London. In 1956 he held a one-man show at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York which sold out to great critical acclaim. Paintings were purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo.

House of Four Souls was painted during a time of great experimentation in sculpture, collage and monotype. By placing the board on the floor and using the paints that he made and mixed himself, a technique which he had learnt from Pollock, it gave him the ability to paint quickly and spontaneously. However the work itself is far more than an active expression of its production. The vigorous brush marks, dribbles and splashes are underpinned by a strong black architectural structure. Jewel-like reds and yellows emerge, like stained glass, within images or symbols, hinted at, ambiguous. This painting is not a spontaneous emotional response to a moment in time. It can’t be fixed to a certain event, experience or place.

In a poem, written by the artist for an exhibition in 1963 he attempts to vocalise this early period of travel and discovery:

I married me a wife, and we went away together, and we found
the mountains and the snows together, and the Italian
sunshine, and the marvelous mosaics and the gold and the
white and the pink and the bottlegreen sea. Then I really began
to paint in the way I had learned to write and to play jazz and
in the way I had learned to make love: and I learned that All is
in me and I in All; and I discovered that I really am a child for
evermore, and an animal still, thank God; just like them: my
parrot my canary my poodles my dachshund my cats my
budgerigars; they really know: and my little blond baby
daughter knows too.

(I Confess by Alan Davie, cited in exhibition catalogue, Visione Colore, Venice, Palazzo Grassi, July - October 1963).

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