Arthur Bowen Davies
American, 1862 - 1928
Click image to learn more about each picture, or send as a free e-card
American painter and illustrator. He first trained as an architectural draughtsman at the Academy of Design, Chicago (1878). After studying briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago, he went to New York, where he attended the Gotham School and the Art Students League (1886-8). By 1887 he was working as an illustrator for Century magazine. A realist landscape painter in the 19th-century academic tradition, he was influenced by the painters of the Hudson River school and particularly by the luminist, dream-like landscapes of George Inness.
Around 1900 Davies’s paintings became Symbolist in style, with the introduction of mystical nude figures in the landscape, as in Meeting in the Forest (1900; Montclair, NJ, A. Mus.). Themes combining Classical figures and landscape, which evolved in a mythical classicist style reminiscent of the work of Puvis de Chavannes, typified Davies’s work throughout his career. Increasingly drawn to ancient art and Greco-Roman civilization, he eventually identified the archaic with modernism, for example in A Double Realm (c. 1905; Worcester, MA, A. Mus.), as a way of projecting eternal truths. He became one of New York’s most influential artists, and, despite his obvious stylistic antithesis to the social realism of the Ashcan school, he was included in the exhibition by the Eight, led by Robert Henri, at the Macbeth Galleries in 1908. Nevertheless, he was an avid proponent of European modernism, also acting as an adviser to his friend and patron Lillie P. Bliss on the purchase of modern art. As president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (1911-13), he was the galvanizing force behind the exhibition of 1913 known as the Armory Show (see New york, fig. 7), the first major introduction of progressive European art trends to the USA.
In his own work Davies was interested in the visual depiction of movement, but rather than pursue an abstract Synchromist style he adopted a narrative realist format inspired at one point by the dancer Isadora Duncan, for example Rhythms (c. 1910; Milwaukee, WI, A. Mus.). He took up yoga and developed a theory of inhalation as part of his interest in eurhythmics, which at the end of his life became crucial to his ideas of ‘continuous composition’, as realized in works such as Falling Figures (c. 1922; New York, James Graham & Sons).
Davies developed a large personal art collection, reflecting eclectic tastes: Puvis de Chavannes, Blake, Redon, Maillol and Picasso.
FIND PRINTS & BOOKS
Books View all prints & books »
A selection of art exhibitions which have featured this
No messages have been posted about this artist. Post a new message (requires login).