Davie was born in Grangemouth, Scotland and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1937-1940. After the war (his service was in the Royal Artillery) he exhibited first at the Edinburgh Bookshop, before becoming a professional jazz musician. He married the potter Janet Gaul (1948) before setting out on his travels that included Europe (shows in Venice and Florence) and then returning to teach at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1950.

Alan Davie was aided by Patrick HERON in finding a cottage at Treen, Crean Bottom, near Lands End when he and his wife arrived in West Cornwall after years spent in St Lucia, West Indies. Referring to himself in the third person in soft Scottish accents, he and his late wife Bili (until her death) have remained in the cottage, though also living in Hertford.

The collater of the Paisnel Gallery catalogue (2009) remarks on Davie's interest in Zen Buddhism, and how this inspired his spontaneity and intuition - with many of his paintings 'having no pre-considered composition or even titled until completed.'

His obituary, published 8 April 2014 comments 'Davie was never appreciated as much in Britain as abroad' one his most influential supporters being the art collector Peggy Guggenheim.  'His paintings from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s are among the very best of European abstract art.'


Painter in oils of abstracts

works and access

Works include: Tiger is Joyful (1960); Lemon Quadrille (1961); Paisnel Cat no 12 & no 13 (2009)

Access to works: Arts Council; Tate Gallery; Scottish National Gallery; Peggy Guggenheim, Venice; NY Museum of Modern Art; Carnegie Inst, Pittsburgh; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Art Gallery of NSW; Kunsthaus, Basel


1992: RWE Bristol: Artists from Cornwall exh

Paisnel Gallery November 2009



misc further info



Bird (2008) St Ives Artists

P Fuller (1988) in B Ford, ed The Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain, Vol 9, Chp 3: 'The Visual Arts'

LeGrice (2008) The First Eleven: St Ives Artists (photo)

Obituaries: The Times Tuesday, April 8 2014 (colour photo)

Paisnel Gallery (2009) Post-War and St Ives (Exhibition catalogue)

RA (1977) British Painting 1952-77

RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall, Bristol