25th Apr, 2023 10:00

Modern and Contemporary Art

Lot 13


Alan Davie RA (1920-2014)

Alan Davie RA (1920-2014)
'Bird Cage No.1', 1956
signed 'Alan Davie' inscribed with title and 'OPUS 0.165', and dated verso, oil on board
122 x 152.5cm

Provenance: with Gimpel Fils, London, November 2007;

Exhibited: Graves Gallery, Sheffield, 'Alan Davie', June - August 1965, no.11;

Literature: A Bowness, 'Alan Davie', Lund Humphries, London, 1967, pl. 127.

In the 1950s, Alan Davie was influenced by earlier artists and movements, such as Paul Klee and abstracted Surrealism. The present lot shows a semi-surrealist approach through his use of composition, form and colour, but with his own technique of combining richly textured paint and rubbing back.

More significant perhaps is the impact of the Abstract Expressionists upon the young painter. He had visited the Venice Biennale on a scholarship in 1949 and, in viewing the travelling Peggy Guggenheim exhibition, he was one of the first British artists of his generation to be exposed to Abstract Expressionism. Like Pollock, Davie would create his works by laying them on the floor. Although his brushwork in 'Bird Cage 1' is a little more controlled and the composition more representational than others, the scale and bold handling of the paint is reminiscent of the New York school.

It was through Peggy Guggenheim that Davie was introduced to Charles and Peter Gimpel, which began a relationship with dealers Gimpel Fils that lasted over sixty years. Following this partnership in 1950, the artist’s reputation rose steadily and in 1956, the year of this work’s creation, he had his first New York exhibition with works purchased by MOMA. Closer to home, the Contemporary Art Society and Tate Gallery also bought pieces and in 1958, aged only thirty-eight, retrospectives were held at both Wakefield City Art Gallery and the Whitechapel Gallery, London. By the 1960s, Davie had gained the reputation as a major player in the art world and with 'Bird Cage 1' we get to see the talents of this unique artist at a pivotal point in his career.

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Sold for £13,000

Condition Report

Presents well, no apparent major condition issues. Some light surface dirt. A few tiny old spots of paint loss visible on very close inspection. Nail heads visible to edges of board, these may have been retouched as well as the extreme edges of the board, likely due to old frame abrasians. UV light does show some fluorescence elsewhere but appears to be artists paint rather than later retouching.



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Auction: Modern and Contemporary Art, 25th Apr, 2023



A selection of lots will be on view 25 March - 13 April (closed 7-10 April) at our London Gallery, 15 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ, as follows:

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Sun - Closed

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Viewing will be held at our Stansted Auction Rooms, Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet CM24 8GE, as follows: 

Fri 21 April, 10am - 5pm

Sun 23 April, 10am - 1pm 

Mon 24 April, 10am - 5pm 

All lots are, however, extensively illustrated and carry detailed condition reports - see 'Condition report' at the foot of each lot description. 

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