March 1, 2015


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Lot 65: Ronald Davis

Lot 65: Ronald Davis

Notch Rectangle XIV

Pigmented polyester resin and fiberglass
Signed on artist's label with title verso
Together with receipt from Nicholas Wilder Gallery and gallery mailer
Provenance: Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, California;
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, 1971);
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, 1972)
Exhibited: "Rectangle Series," Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, September 27-November 14, 1971
Literature: Elderfield, John. "Ron Davis at Castelli." Artforum Mar. 1971: 32-34 for similar works discussed and illustrated.
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Price Realized: $12,500
Inventory Id: 17964

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California artist Ron Davis (b. 1937) explores geometric shapes and the illusions of visual perspective using the new techniques and materials that came to be popular in Los Angeles via the thriving aerospace and plastics industries. Davis was born in Santa Monica and grew up in Wyoming, and returned to California to attend the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1960s. He was initially interested in Abstract Expressionism, but his move to Los Angeles in 1964 had a profound impact upon his work. He abandoned traditional painting and began to work with shaped canvases, colored plastic resins, and fiberglass, creating colorful, geometric artworks that played upon dimensionality and flatness, color, and visual perspective. The artist explains: "My work is comprised of aggressively decorative, meaningless, unidentified floating objects that pretend to be rational. Illusion is my vehicle. Opticality is paramount. Struggling to gain a fingerhold in the formidable tradition of abstract painting, I attempted a synthesis between the 'minimal object,' Pop … and traditional, emotion-driven expressionist painting."

Ironically, Davis's avant-garde, highly material, and experimental work maintains the same concerns of color, space, volume, and perspective as in traditional painting. Davis connects his work to the history of art by saying: "If I've made any contribution at all, it is that counter to the glacial movement of serious twentieth century painting since Cézanne toward flatness, I've reintroduced the theorems of three-dimensional, mathematical perspective into my made objects; my constructions. This is my legacy; my contribution to the art history books."

In 1968, Davis was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is held in public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery; and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Elderfield, John. "New Paintings by Ron Davis." Artforum March 1971. 32-34. "Ronald Davis Speaks About His Work." Video clip. Pacific Standard Time at the Getty Center. The J. Paul Getty Museum, June 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.