Ronald Davis

Ronald Davis

::otherpeople|Ronald DavisInfobox Artist
bgcolour = #6495ED
name = Ronald Davis

imagesize = 300px
caption = "Ring," 1968, 60 1/2 x 134 inches, polyester resin and fiberglass, (Dodecagon series), Museum of Modern Art, New York City]
birthname =
birthdate = 1937
location = Santa Monica, California,
deathdate =
deathplace =
nationality = American
field = Painting
training = University of Wyoming, San Francisco Art Institute
movement = Abstract Expressionism, Geometric abstraction, Abstract Illusionism, Lyrical Abstraction, Hard-edge painting, Shaped canvas painting, Color field painting, Digital art, Digital painting and 3D Computer Graphics
works =
patrons =
influenced by =
influenced =
awards = 1962 Yale-Norfolk Summer School Grantee

Ronald Davis (a.k.a. Ron Davis), born 1937, is an American painter whose work is associated with Geometric abstraction, Abstract Illusionism, Lyrical Abstraction, Hard-edge painting, Shaped canvas painting, Color field painting, and 3D Computer Graphics. He is a veteran of nearly seventy solo exhibitions and hundreds of group exhibitions.


Born in Santa Monica, California, he was raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming.In 1955-56 he attended the University of Wyoming. In 1959 at the age of 22 became interested in painting. In 1960-64 he attended the San Francisco Art Institute. Abstract Expressionism, the prevailing artistic movement of the time, would have an influence on many of his future works. In 1962 he was a Yale-Norfolk Summer School Grantee.In 1963 his paintings became hard-edged, geometric and optical in style, and by 1964 his works were shown in important museums and galleries. Lived and worked in Los Angeles, CA, 1965-71; Malibu, CA, 1972-1990. Moved to Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico on the outskirts of Taos, New Mexico in 1991-present.


Ronald Davis from the earliest days of his career had a significant impact on contemporary abstract painting of the mid-1960s. According to art critic Michael Fried: "Ron Davis is a young California artist whose new paintings, recently shown at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York, are among the most significant produced anywhere during the past few years, and place him, along with Stella and Bannard, at the forefront of his generation." [Michael Fried. "Ronald Davis: Surface and Illusion." Artforum, vol. 5, no. 8. April, 1967. pp. 37-41, Cover Illus.: Six-Ninths Blue, 1966] He had his first one person exhibition at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles in 1965.

Barbara Rose wrote an in depth essay about Ronald Davis' paintings of the 1960s in the catalogue accompanying an exhibition of his "Dodecagon Series" in 1989 in Los Angeles. Among other observations she wrote: "Davis saw a way to use Duchamp's perspective studies and transparent plane in The Large Glass for pictorial purposes. Instead of glass, he used fiberglass to create a surface that was equally transparent and detached from any illusion of reality. Because his colored pigments are mixed into a fluid resin and harden quickly, multiple layers of color may be applied without becoming muddy. his is essentially an inversion of Old Master layering and glazing except that color is applied behind rather than on top of the surface. In a letter to the Tate Gallery, which had acquired the 1968 painting Vector, Davis described the technique he began using in 1966:"

Fiberglass cloth and mat replaced canvas as reinforcement and support for the colored resin (paint). They were painted with a brush face down on a waxed Formica table mold. The illusionary plane nearest the viewer was masked out with tape and painted first, the furthest away was painted last. Layers of fiberglass impregnated with resin were laminated to the back of the painting... The completed painting was peeled from the waxed mold and polished.

"Alone among his contemporaries, Ronald Davis was equally concerned with traditional problems of painting: space, scale, detail, color relationships and illusions as he was with the California emphasis on hi-tech craft and industrial materials. How to reconcile the literal object produced with the latest technology with transcendental metaphor became the problem that occupied throughout the Sixties." [ [ "RONALD DAVIS – Objects and Illusions," retrieved online May 9, 2008] ]

In an Artforum article in 1970 artist/art critic Walter Darby Bannard commented:"Though Davis is plagued by "series" ideas, and has yet to get a grip on the inherent monumentality of his style, he is young and inspired, and these things will evolve naturally." [Walter Darby Bannard. "Notes on American Painting of the Sixties." Artforum, January 1970, vol. 8, no. 5, pp.40-45.] From 1966-1972 Ron Davis created geometric shaped, illusionistic paintings using polyester resins and fiberglass. About Davis' paintings of the late 1960s in an essay accompanying the Ronald Davis retrospective exhibition "Forty Years of Abstraction," at the Butler Institute of American Art in 2002, the abstract painter Ronnie Landfield wrote: "the Dodecagons from 1968-69 remain among the most visually stunning, audacious and intellectually interesting bodies of work made by an abstract painter in the last half of the twentieth century." [ [ "The Essence Of Abstraction," retrieved online May 9, 2008] ]

In 1966 Davis was an instructor at the University of California, Irvine. Also in that year he had his first one-man exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York City and a solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1968.

His works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, [ [ MoMA collection website] ] the Tate Gallery, London, [ [ Ron Davis in the Tate Collection] ] the Los Angeles County Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago and he has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant. In recent years he has become a pioneer in the new idiom of Digital painting and Digital art.


ee also

*Digital painting
*Digital art

Additional sources

Barbara Rose. "American Painting. Part Two: The Twentieth Century". Published by Skira - Rizzoli, New York, 1969, pp. 230, 234. Color Plate: "Disk", 1968

Barbara Rose. "Abstract Illusionism." "Artforum", October 1967

Robert Hughes. "Ron Davis at Kasmin." "Studio International", December 1968, vol. 176, no.906, pp 264-265.

John Elderfield. "New Paintings by Ron Davis." "Artforum", vol. 9, no. 7, March 1971, pp. 32-34.

Paul Goldberger. "Studied Slapdash." "The New York Times Magazine", January 18, 1976, pp. 48-50. Photos and article on Ron Davis’ Studio

Hilton Kramer. "The Return of Illusionism." "The New York Times, Arts and Leisure". Sunday, May 28, 1978, p. 25

External links

* [ complete Michael Fried text]
* [ complete Darby Bannard text]

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