Ronald Davis American, b. 1937


Ronald Davis was born June 29, 1937, in Santa Monica, California. He spent his early years in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he attended the University of Wyoming from 1955–1956. In 1959, at the age of 22, Davis was first inspired to become a painter. A year later, he started his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, graduating in 1964. During his time at the Art Institute, Davis was a grantee of the Yale-Norfolk Summer School of Music and Art in 1962. Shortly after graduating, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he had his first solo exhibition at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in 1965. 

In 1966, Davis began making some of his most well-known pieces by creating “geometric shaped illusionistic paintings using colored polyester resins and fiberglass.” However, under doctor’s orders, he stopped using this technique for health reasons. Furthermore, 1966 brought change to Davis’ career when he became an instructor at the University of California and held his first New York solo show at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. In 1968, Ronald was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts following his solo exhibition at Leo Castelli’s gallery. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Chicago Art Institute acquired a variety of his paintings. 

The medium of Davis’ work changed in 1972 as he ventured into sound sculpture and electronic music compositions. In the same year, he collaborated with architect Frank Gehry to create a groundbreaking, post-modernist 5000 square-foot studio and residence in Malibu, California. In 1973, Davis returned to acrylic painting and created many of his well-known series such as the “Floater Series,” “Flatland Series” and more. From 1975–1978, Davis created the “Snapline Series,” which consisted of large scale, geometric and illusionist paintings on canvas. He adapted a construction tool called the snapline to create perspective grids on canvas layered with elaborate backgrounds and various shapes, creating detailed and dimensional paintings. 

In 1988, Davis began creating work using Macintosh 3D rendering and animation programs. In 1991, he moved to Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, where, just a year before, he had built a complex of six different studio and living buildings on a 10-acre lot. Davis began painting again in 1995 using wax medium on wood, which were then shown
at Jaquelin Lloyd Contemporary in 1998. On October 1, 2001, Davis shifted from his perspective grid to a new style of painting that used expanded PVC plastic and Golden acrylics to create a series of three- dimensional paintings that were shown at three different exhibitions in the summer of 2002. 

In 2005, Davis continued his work with digital software to create even more advanced pieces. In 2006, he used these techniques to create digital works on pieces of aluminum. He continued this work on aluminum and expanded PVC through 2010. Since then, he has created a set of ever evolving works, including small compositions on glass, digital paintings and more.