Gene Davis (American, 1920-1985),
acrylic on unprimed canvas, 47 x 69 in.; 119.38 x 175.26
Gift of Sylvia B. and Jerome I. Cohn in Memory of Margy Schneider, 2007.42
Intrigued by the freshness and radicality of modern and contemporary art, Davis tried his unschooled hand at painting at the age of twenty-nine, after having had a successful career as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for nearly a decade. From 1953 to 1958 Davis became preoccupied with Abstract Expressionism, the current canguard style in American art. To this aesthetic of thick paint and its aggressive application, all-over copmosition, and large scale, Davis added intense color. He sought in Abstract Expressionism not the discovery of self or a philosophical investigation of reality but an innovative means of combining color, form and structure in a way that defined the essence of painting.
Davis developed his signature work, the stripe painting, in the company of the Washington Color School, a loose, regional group of artists that developed out of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Davis explored the possibilities of unifying color and its support by staining saturated color into an unprimed canvas. His stipe paintings do not display a serial development like the works of many of his peers, but show a continuing fascination and exprimentation with color combinations and intervals.