Signature: Hand signed and numbered in felt pen and ink, verso
Gene Davis, Jack in the Box, 1969 Series I Portfolio, 1969, Signed, Screenprint on canvas laminated to board, Edition 72/150, 37 3/4" x 27 3/4" Framed Size, 30" x 20 1/8" Sheet Size, 30" x 20 1/8" Image Size
Gene Davis was born in Washington D.C. in 1920 and spent nearly all his life there. Before he began to paint in 1949, he worked as a sportswriter, covering the Washington Redskins and other local teams. Working as a journalist in the late 1940s, he covered the Roosevelt and Truman presidential administrations, and was often President Truman's partner for poker games. A decade later he participated in the "Washington Color Painters" exhibit at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, DC, which traveled to other venues around the US, and launched the recognition of the Washington Color School as a regional movement in which Davis was a central figure. Their work exemplified what the critic Barbara Rose defined as the 'primacy of color' in abstract painting. Davis is best known by far for his acrylic paintings (mostly on canvas) of colorful vertical stripes, which he began to paint in 1958. The paintings typically repeat particular colors to create a sense of rhythm and repetition with variations. Despite their calculated appearance, Davis's stripe works were not based on conscious use of theories or formulas. Davis often compared himself to a jazz musician who plays by ear, describing his approach to painting as 'playing by eye.' One of the best-known of his paintings, "Black Grey Beat" (1964), owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum reinforces these musical comparisons in its title. Davis was a versatile artist who worked in a variety of formats and media: modular compositions consisting of discrete, but related, pieces that together form one composition; collages combining cutout fragments of images and text with painted and drawn elements; Klee-inspired images that resemble musical scores; and silhouette self-portraits. His works range in scale from miniscule micro-paintings to mammoth outdoor street paintings. Works in other media include printed conceptual pieces, video tapes, and abstract compositions in neon. "I became convinced that the way to make really good art was to do the outrageous, the unexpected---to be a renegade. That was my philosophy---to explore the seemingly impossible in art, to do things that were new for their own sake, whether they were good or bad."