Arthur B. Davies
born Sept. 26, 1862, Utica, N.Y.,U.S.
died Oct. 24, 1928, Florence, Italy
in full Arthur Bowen Davies American painter, printmaker, and tapestry
designer known for his idylls of classical fantasy painted in a Romantic
style but best remembered for his leadership in introducing modern
European painting styles into early 20th-century America.
Trained in Utica, New York City, and Chicago, Davies at first painted
atmospheric landscapes in the Romantic manner—e.g., “Along the Erie Canal”
(1890; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.). It was after 1900 that his
most characteristic works were created—idyllic scenes of elegant nude
figures and mythological creatures gracefully grouped in frieze
compositions before stark Romantic landscapes—e.g., “Crescendo” (1910;
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City).
In 1908 Davies organized an exhibit of artists who came to be known as The
Eight (q.v.), or ultimately as the Ashcan School. As president of the
Society of Independent Artists, Davies was a major figure in the
organization of the sensational Armory Show (q.v.) of 1913, which brought
the works of European and American modernists to the attention of the U.S.
public. Davies himself adopted a modified Cubist style for several years
and painted rhythmic patterns of geometricized fragments of natural forms
and figures—e.g., “Dancers” (after 1913; Detroit Institute of Arts).
During the last decade of his career he returned to a representational
style and devoted much of his time to etching and colour lithography.