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  • Writer's picture Untitled Art Gallery

Battle for Grown-Ups, 1969 by Gene Davis

Battle for Grown-Ups, 1969 by Gene Davis
Battle for Grown-Ups, 1969 by Gene Davis

Battle for Grown-Ups from Series 2, 1969; Serigraph on canvas laminated on board; Signed Gene Davis in ink, lower right verso; Stamp titled with Petersburg Press and numbered 69/150 in ink verso lower left; Size - 31 x 20"; Unframed.

"My whole approach is intuitive. Sometimes I simply use the color I have the most of and worry about getting out of trouble later. Perhaps I'm like the jazz musician who can't read music but plays by ear. I paint by eye." - Gene Davis

Gene Davis (1920-1985) was an American Color Field painter known for his paintings of vertical strips of color. His first exhibition of drawings and first exhibition of paintings occurred in 1952 and 53 respectively. However, it was not until a decade later than he participated in the "Washington Color Painters" exhibit at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington DC that launched the recognition of the Washington Color School as a regional art movement. Davis was a central figure of that movement and was most known for his acrylic paintings of colored vertical stripes, which he began to paint in 1958.

In 1972, Davis created "Franklin's Footpath," which was at the time the world's largest artwork. It was accomplished by painting colored vertical stripes on the street in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He also painted "Niagara" in 1979, the world's largest painting (43,680 square feet) in a parking lot in Lewiston, NY. Davis also painted (at the other extreme) his "micro-paintings," that were as small as 3/8 on an inch wide.

In 1966, Gene Davis began teaching at the Corcoran School of Art, becoming a permanent member of the faculty. His works are included in many public and private collections as well as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum; just to name a few.

Davis's paintings tend to repeat particular colors in order to create a sense of rhythm and repetition with variations. "Battle for Grown-Ups," 1969 is a wonderful example of Davis at the height of his skill. Colors are repeated across the canvas forcing the eye to dance about looking for ebbs and flows of interactions. Colored lines are arranged as pairs or discreet groupings of alternating colors to keep the eye moving. Adjacent colors push and pull lines of color away and towards the viewer in a seemingly ever ending orchestration. The eyes of the viewer are being expertly manipulated by Davis in a color and field "battle," ever seeking a way to resolve the composition. Perfectly titled by Gene Davis, "Battle for Grown-Ups" would be a wonderful work for any modern art collection!


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