Jazz-inspired Alan Davie piece is acquired by University of Leeds

  • 4 August 2010

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery (University of Leeds) has bought Figure Mask No. 2, a key work by Scottish abstract painter Alan Davie, who was a Gregory Fellow in Painting at the University from 1957 until 1959.

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery (University of Leeds) has bought Opus 0.149 Figure Mask No. 2, a key work by Scottish abstract painter Alan Davie, who was a Gregory Fellow in Painting at the University from 1957 until 1959.

Acquired with seed funding from the bequest of Georgina Dobrée, a renowned clarinettist and daughter of Bonamy Dobrée, who was on the Gregory Fellowship committee that appointed Davie, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund gave £25,000 towards the acquisition and we gave a further £20,000 to reach the purchase price.

Opus 0.149 Figure Mask No.2 exemplifies the type of work Davie was producing during his period in Leeds. The Gregory scheme - the first of its kind in Britain – brought working artists into the context of the University where they were regarded as members of staff whilst continuing to work independently, making themselves and their work accessible to the whole University community.

Born at Grangemouth near Edinburgh, Alan Davie studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1937 to 1940. He served in the Royal Artillery from 1941 to 1946, when he became a jazz musician.  In 1948, a scholarship enabled him to travel across Europe visiting its metropolitan centres, where he came under the spell of modernist painting, particularly in the first post-war Biennale in Venice and Peggy Guggenheim’s collection of Surrealist and recent American painting.  The influence of his beloved improvisational jazz music is very evident in Opus 0.149 Figure Mask No. 2 and the purchase is a fitting tribute to Georgina Dobrée, for its musical and family connections.

The University Art Collection’s strength lies in its impressive collection of 20th century English modernism works and Opus 0.149 Figure Mask No.2 is now on display in that permanent collection.

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