Paul Davis: INKLINGS, Works on Paper, on view through May 5, 2023, at Keyes Art, 45 Main Street Sag Harbor
April 9, 2023: Julie Keyes hosted an opening reception for Paul Davis’s Inklings, an exhibition of works on paper by the renowned artist at her gallery in Sag Harbor.
Paul Davis is known for his iconic images for posters, theaters, and museums. Kurt Vonnegut praised Davis’ work as “theater itself.”
Born in 1938 Davis commented, “Most of these works have been private, done to refresh and create surprise for myself. I try to empty my mind, put down a line, see what it suggests, and go from there, experimenting with techniques and process. In their making, I learn a lot.”
In 1968 he was invited by Galerie Delpire in Paris to have his first solo exhibition of paintings, and in 1977, Gilles deBure, curator of the Galerie d’Actualité in the Centre Georges Pompidou, presented a solo exhibition of Davis’s work as part of the museum’s opening festivities.
His distinctive paintings and posters for advertising, publishing and entertainment have been the subject of museum and gallery exhibitions throughout Japan, Italy, and cities around the U.S. Paul Davis quickly caught the eye and imagination of art directors in the US and globally. This led to being in demand as an illustrator for magazines, record covers, and advertising.
He formed the Paul Davis Studio in 1963, working first in NYC and later in Sag Harbor, NY. His style had a tremendous impact on the field of illustration which have appeared in Life, Time, Playboy, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, Harper’s, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, The New York Times, The New Yorker, amongst many publications.
Davis’s most instantly recognizable work was done for Joseph Papp, founder of the Public Theater, from 1974 through Papp’s death in 1991. A permanent tribute featuring some of his images is on display at the theater on Lafayette Street in NYC. He was the designer of the first poster for the Hampton Classic, and regularly contributed to festival campaigns for Bay Street Theater. His images are an essential element of the general aesthetic milieu of the East End. Davis’s work is included in collections throughout the world, including the poster collection of MOMA, NYC.
In 1987, The Drama Desk created a special award to recognize Davis’s iconic posters for Joseph Papp’s Public Theater. Paul is also honored in the Hall of Fame, the Art Directors Club and the Society of Illustrators.
In an era when “some people were limited by being funny, by being comic, or by the way they drew,” Davis said, “I realized I wanted to make a style that was so expandable that I could work on any subject in the same way, and I wanted something that was very flexible but true to whatever the vision was.”
Photography: Barry Gordin