Provenance: The artist Gimpel Fils Private collection
Exhibitions: Alan Davie - Retrospective, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1958Davie - Retrospective, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1958 Alan Davie - Retrospective, Nottingham University Art Gallery, 1958Davie - Retrospective, Wakefield Art Gallery: 1958 Alan Davie: Major Works of the Fifties, Gimpel Fils, London, 1987 Alan Davie - Major Retrospective, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, 1992 Alan Davie schilderijen paintings'1950-2000, Cobra Museum voor moderne kunst, Amstelveen, Netherlands: 21 September - 25 November 2001 The Challenge of Post-War Painting: New Paths for Modernist Art in Britain 1950 - 1965, James Hyman Fine Gallery, London. 3 June - 4 September 2004.
Literature: Alan Bowness, Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1967, (no.157, p1.41), illustrated. Alan Davie, Lund Humphries, London, 1992, with essays by Douglas Hall and Michael Tucker, (no. 199), illustrated. The Challenge of Post-War Painting: New paths for modernist art in Britain 1950 - 1965, James Hyman Fine Art, London. 2004, (cat. 10), illustrated p.41.
Creation of Eve is one of Alan Davie's most important paintings and one of his largest early canvases.
Like Snail Elements and Woman Bewitched by the Moon, Creation of Eve dates from the key moment in the artist's early career. Painted shortly after his first visit to New York, it shows him stretching himself still further to produce a painting that rivals both Pollock and de Kooning.
Davie has subsequently acknowledged the importance of Creation of Eve, using it to illuminate his wider motivations and procedures as a painter:
'CREATION OF EVE is a classic example of images being as it were DRAWN OUT of the picture by rapid linear work with a black brush and very liquid paint (to facilitate very fast movement) - again worked with no preconceived forms in mind. A magical creation of a woman from 'NON MATTER'.
Mainly ideas and forms came intuitively out of the act of painting: driven by an intense inner urge to create without specific pre-conceived formal concept.Davie, letter to James Hyman, 30 April 2003)
Davie's greatest paintings of the mid 1950s such as Creation of Eve share with Cubism a sophisticated orchestration of space and combine a grip on form with maximum expressive freedom.
In Creation of Eve Davie built on his painting of 1956 to develop pre-existing concerns in ways that took on even more directly the challenges posed by Jackson Pollock, not least by the American's massive canvas, One: Number 31, 1950, which had been exhibited in London in early 1956 at the Tate Gallery exhibition Modern Art in the United States.
As in Pollock's drip paintings, partially buried references to sexual organs and traces of the body, including hand and footprints are evident but the degree of structuring and the use of local areas of incident mark a departure from the more unified wholeness of the Pollock. In its bold airiness Creation of Eve also departs from the denser intricacy of One, while Davie's use of the canvas ground recalls the lucidity and openness of André Masson's sand paintings. Furthermore, the bodily traces of forms, suggestive of limbs and even breasts, that provides the central focal point of Creation of Eve and gives the painting its name, is surely a counterpart to de Kooning's women and to Pollock's creation myths.
Certainly, the scale and ambition of Creation of Eve has few equivalents in British or indeed European painting of this period and illustrates Davie's position at the pinnacle of the European vanguard, the creator of an art that rivalled the phenomenological concerns of Pollock and the post-cubist space of de Kooning.
We are grateful to Alan Davie for his assistance in cataloguing this work.