Noah Davis and Helen Molesworth
Providing a crucial record of the painter Noah Davis’s extraordinary oeuvre, this monograph tells the story of a brilliant artist and cultural force through the eyes of his friends and collaborators.
Despite his exceedingly premature death at the age of 32, Noah Davis created emotionally charged work that places him firmly in the canon of great American painting. Stirring, elusive, and attuned to the history of painting, his compositions infuse scenes from everyday life with a magical realist atmosphere and contain traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, Mark Rothko, and Luc Tuymans.
This catalogue is published on the occasion of the 2020 exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, which travels to the Underground Museum in Los Angeles, a space that Davis founded with his wife, artist Karon Davis. In her introduction, catalogue essay, and interviews with important figures in Davis’s life, curator Helen Molesworth shows how the artist’s generosity and sense of responsibility galvanized a uniquely supportive artistic community, culture, and vision. Through color illustrations and archival photographs, the book captures the intimate yet expansive spirit of a studio visit with the artist.
American artist Noah Davis’s (1983–2015) body of work encompasses, on the one hand, his lush, sensual figurative paintings and, on the other, an ambitious institutional project called the Underground Museum, a black-owned-and-operated art space dedicated to the exhibition of museum-quality art in a culturally underserved African American and Latinx neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Helen Molesworth is a Los Angeles–based writer and curator. While chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, she forged a partnership with the Underground Museum and organized the exhibitions Kahlil Joseph: Double Consciousness (2015) and Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth (2015).