Alan Davie


Scottish painter, musician and printmaker, Alan Davie trained at Edinburgh College of Art from 1937. After military service with the Royal Artillery, he spent a period working as a professional jazz pianist, travelling widely in Europe. In the early 1940s he saw the paintings by Jackson Pollock in Peggy Guggenheim’s collection in Venice; these informed his own mythical imagery and forceful painterly gestures. Davie’s interest in other cultures later led him to convert to Zen Buddhism.


His first one-man exhibition was in 1950 with Gimpel Fils, London. From 1953 to 1956 Davie taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, winning the Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University, 1956–1959, during which time he visited New York.


Davie’s work enjoyed wide acclaim during his lifetime, with a large exhibition at FBA Galleries, London touring around Europe in 1962 and 1963. Davie also held a one-man exhibition in the British section of VII Biennale at Săo Paulo, Brazil in 1963.


He was honoured by the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (HRSA), 1977, and became a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1991. His works are held in numerous public and private collections, including the Tate Collection and the National Galleries of Scotland.