Sunday, August 25, 2013

Randall Davey

We had the good fortune yesterday to get a tour of the home of the Santa Fe artist, Randall Davey.  The occasion was a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the bequest of the house and the property to become the headquarters of the Audubon Society in New Mexico.

Davey's house and studio was converted from an old mill in the hills east of Santa Fe.  The main stipulation of the donor, the painter's sister-in-law, was that the property be maintained in the condition it was in when occupied by the artist and his family.

There are quite a few nice examples of Davey's work in the house.  In addition to painting, he also did print making and sculptures.  He was known primariy for his portraits, mostly oils, but he also did quite a bit of watercolor work, including many depictions of horse races and polo matches in which he was an enthusiastic participant.

The bar at the back of the house is a windowless, cave-like room which speaks to the painter's bon vivant reputation.

The door to the studio was decorated by the artist with themes that are repeated in his work.

A big north-facing window in the studio perfectly illuminates a small stage where Davey posed his sitters.  

Randall Davey's art today does not command the prices of the iconic Taos painters, but he had a substantial reputation in the first half of the 20th Century.  In spite of that, and the fact that he was a very colorful character, there is not a lot to be found written about him.  His collected papers are in the Smithsonian awaiting the attention of some chronicler like Linda Gordon or Beth Gates Warren.

Photograph of Randall Davey in Studio;
photo by W. Eugene Smith, made for Life magazine.
I was particularly pleased to find this 1941 picture of Davey at the Smithsonian site as it shows that I was standing briefly in the same place to make my pictures of the studio as the greatest American documentary photographer, W. Eugene Smith.

it turns out Laura Gilpin shot the same scene in 1947:

Laura Gilpin, Randall Davey, gelatin silver print, 1947;
Bequest of the artist, © 1979 Amon Carter Museum. 


Jim said...

Thanks for introducing me to Davey. And I enjoyed your interior shots with the windows, which are all beautifully exposed.

Selena said...

Lovely depiction of Davey's home and studio! It does seem like there is an opportunity for someone to be THE Davey scholar.

Mike said...

Or at least the editor of a wikipedia page.