By Mark Hudson
Published April 2022, Hardback, £30 ISBN:9781914414558
Alan Davie was one of the great figures of 20th-century British art, a visionary Scottish painter, whose intensely physical gestural canvases turned the staid post-war art world on its head. Alan Davie in Hertford provides a new view of Davie (1920-2014), arguing that far from being an essentially historical figure, defined by the Abstract Expressionist era of the 1950s and early 1960s when he enjoyed his greatest fame, Davie was a prophetic artist whose preoccupations with universal creativity and self-realisation are more relevant today than they’ve ever been.
Lavishly illustrated with rare archive photographs and little-seen paintings, Alan Davie in Hertford demonstrates that Davie’s richly symbolic art was far more informed by actual physical places than is generally supposed, not least the quiet market town of Hertford, where he lived for sixty years. Ahead of the creation of a new Davie gallery in Hertford, the book provides a catalogue of forty works intended as its core collection, offering a ‘rich and fabulous’ survey of Davie’s achievements, from student works of the 1930s to some of his very last paintings..
Mark Hudson is the art critic of the Independent. His books include Titian, the Last Days, Our Grandmothers’ Drums (winner of the Thomas Cook and Somerset Maugham awards), Coming Back Brocken (winner of the NCR Award, precursor of the Baillie-Gifford Prize) and The Music in my Head. He has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Observer, Financial Times and was for five years chief art critic of the Daily Telegraph. Mark Hudson knew Alan Davie well while working on the film Alan Davie, An Excess of Energy with film editor Justin Krish. The open-ended nature of the project allowed Hudson to observe Davie’s working processes at close quarters over a long period from the early ’80s to within weeks of the artist’s death in 2014.
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