Written by Williams and Felicia Pride—the writer and director of the new short Tender—REALLY LOVE is the story of Isaiah, a young artist, and Stevie, a law student, who meet at a D.C. gallery opening. Later on they discover a mutual love for the work of Noah Davis and take it from there.
Noah Davis (1983–2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of theUnderground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’ paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.
Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, [MarkRothko], and Luc Tuymans.Davis’ pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.
Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded—along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis—the Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’ dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of the UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’ unique curatorial gestures.
In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from the MOCA Los Angeles’ collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’ passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at the UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists. — Helen Molesworth
The exhibition NOAH DAVIS—curated by Molesworth—is now on view at David Zwirner in New York. An iteration of the show will open at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles in March 2020.
A new Davis monograph—featuring an introduction by Molesworth and oral history interviews that she conducted with Davis’ friends, family, and colleagues—is forthcoming.
Peggy Cooper Cafritz—the Washington, D.C., collector of African-American art, salonist, activist, fundraiser, co-founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and just-published author—died last week in the capital.
Her 2018 book FIRED UP! READY TO GO!—FINDING BEAUTY, DEMANDING EQUITY brings together images of more than 200 works of art that were lost in a 2009 house fire, as well as the art Cooper Cafritz had collected in the years since the catastrophe.
The Cooper Cafritz collection includes pieces by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Alma Thomas, Norman Lewis, Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, El Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare, Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Glenn Ligon, Barkley L. Hendricks, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Noah Davis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Titus Kaphar, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Toyin Ojih Odutola.
PEGGY COOPER CAFRITZ, FIRED UP! READY TO GO!—FINDING BEAUTY, DEMANDING EQUITY: AN AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE IN ART, THE COLLECTIONS OF PEGGY COOPER CAFRITZ(New York: Rizzoli , 2018).
Contributors to the book’s text include Thelma Golden, Simone Leigh, Uri McMillan, Jack Shainman, Tschabalala Self.
“Colors, like scents, are a royal road from the outside world to our emotions.” — Peter Schjeldahl*
The Underground Museum—founded in Los Angeles in 2012 by artists Noah Davis and Karon Davis—is dedicated to the exhibition of museum-quality art, and serving as a cultural hub for low-to-moderate-income communities.
According to UM director Megan Steinman, the museum’s current show ARTISTS OF COLOR—the third UM show curated by Noah Davis before his death in 2015—explores “how color is perceived or deployed, and how that can shift over time or by culture.”** Artists represented in the show include Josef Albers, Lita Albuquerque, Michael Asher, Jo Baer, Jeremy Blake, Noah Davis, Dan Flavin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joe Goode, Carmen Herrera, E.J. Hill, Jim Hodges, Jennie C. Jones, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Imi Knoebel, DianaThater, and Brenna Youngblood.
The museum has strong local partnerships with LAXART, MOCA, and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. and future programming will be organized by Karon Davis (Noah’s wife), artist and director Kahlil Joseph (Noah’s brother), and MOCA chief curator Helen Molesworth.
All programs are provided free of charge.
ARTISTS OF COLOR, through February 4, 2018.
THE UNDERGROUND MUSEUM, 3508 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles.