Davie gave this work its title after the painting was completed. He thought the image, with its central spherical shape and encircling ribbon of red paint was suggestive of the ‘primeval womb’, a place of safety and incubation. It reflects his fascination with myth and the symbols found in many cultures to represent birth, procreation and death.
Birth of Venus
Date of work
Oil paint on board 160 x 243.8 cm © Alan Davie
A Scottish painter and printmaker, Davie drew on imagery and symbolism from various world cultures, both ancient and modern, to create paintings of startling originality. Born in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1920, he first earned global recognition in the 1950s as one of the first British artists after the Second World War to develop an expressive form of abstraction. Fascinated by global mythologies, and seeing himself more as a medium – or shaman – than artist, he attempted to liberate painting from mental processes, creating a style that was spontaneous, improvised and complex.