The Lives, Loves, and Art of Arthur B. Davies

By Bennard B. Perlman

Subjects: Art
Paperback : 9780791438367, 469 pages, March 1999
Hardcover : 9780791438350, 469 pages, July 1998

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations



Chapter 1
Youthful Years in Utica (1862-1879)

Chapter 2
Chicago and the Southwest (1880-1885)

Chapter 3
First Love (1886-1889)

Chapter 4
Marriage and Murder (1890-1892)

Chapter 5
The Golden Bough (1893)

Chapter 6
A Call to Art (1894-1895)

Chapter 7
The Dealer and the Double-Dealer (1896-1898)

Chapter 8
Forging Friendships (1898-1900)

Chapter 9
A Model Liaison (1901-1902)

Chapter 10
New Alliances (1902-1905)

Chapter 11
Reaching the Heights (1905-1907)

Chapter 12
The Eight (1908-1909)

Chapter 13
Two Independents (1910-1911)

Chapter 14
Assuming the Presidency (1911-1912)

Chapter 15
The Armory Assault (1912-1913)

Chapter 16
Modernism and Models (1913-1914)

Chapter 17
Murals, Sculptures, and Prints (1914-1917)

Chapter 18
New Challenges (1917-1924)

Chapter 19
Flight and Freedom (1924-1928)

Chapter 20
The Final Cover-Up (1928-1932)

Epilogue (1929-1967)

Appendix I
One-Man Shows by Arthur B. Davies

Appendix II
New York City Residence/Studio Addresses of Arthur B. Davies/David A. Owen

Appendix III




This is the first full-length biography of the artist Arthur B. Davies, who played a major role in twentieth-century American art's coming-of-age. Includes 101 illustrations.


This is the first full-length biography of the American artist Arthur B. Davies, who played a major role in twentieth-century American art's coming-of-age. It was Davies who made possible the landmark exhibitions of The Eight and The Rockwell Kent Independent, and in 1913 he emerged as the mastermind behind the Armory Show, the first large-scale display of European modern art in the United States. Dozens of the country's best-known collectors purchased their initial avant-garde acquisitions at this show, and U.S. artists, in turn, could no longer be kept in check by the conservative National Academy after viewing works by Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, and others.

Drawing on extensive archival research, including previously unavailable letters and diaries, this book covers the breadth and depth of the artist's life and career, from his boyhood in Utica in the 1860s; through his close association with such artists and collectors as Robert Henri, John Sloan, Alfred Stieglitz, Lizzie Bliss, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller; to his death in Italy in 1928 in the company of his mistress, with whom he had lived a secret double life as "David A. Owen" for more than twenty years.

Included are 101 color and black-and-white illustrations of Davies's own work, ranging from romantic dream visions to fragmented cubist forms, as well as photographs depicting his family and friends. Davies, who worked in over twenty different media, was called "one of the foremost artists in this country" and "one of the greatest artists of our time," and his work is represented in major collections throughout the United States. The illustrations alone, many of works in private collections and available here to the public for the first time, as well as the appended chronology, exhibition checklist, and list of addresses, make this a valuable addition to the library of every art dealer, curator, and student of American art. But equally fascinating is the story of the forces, personalities, and relationships that helped shape the course of twentieth-century American art.

Bennard B. Perlman is former Professor and Chair of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the Baltimore City Community College and has lectured extensively on American art. He is the author of The Immortal Eight: American Painting from Eakins to the Armory Show; 1% Art in Architecture; The Golden Age of American Illustration: F. R. Gruger and His Circle; and Robert Henri: His Life and Art and editor of Revolutionaries of Realism: The Letters of John Sloan and Robert Henri.


"Painter Arthur B. Davies (1862–1928) emerges as an odious and, probably, deeply disturbed man in the detailed account of his life by researcher and writer Perlman (Robert Henri: His Life and Art). Davies (like Henri) exhibited with the group of painters known as The Eight, and as president of the Association of America Painters and Sculptors, he introduced European modern art to the American public by organizing the 1913 Armory Show. But Davies built his career by gaining the affection of women whom he neglected badly once they bore his children. ..He found the refuge he sought--a place where he had neither financial nor emotional responsibilities—in art....But, as this fascinating biography attests, his freedoms cost others dearly." — Publishers Weekly

"This is the first comprehensive biography of Davies, whose stewardship of the Armory Show transformed the course of American art, and it contains a mine of information on the artist's life and career found nowhere else. The original research is buttressed by the author's own knowledge of The Eight, which has been accumulated over decades of work in the field. The illustrations he has provided are impressive as well, as are the excellent and necessary chronology, exhibition checklist, and list of addresses." — Avis Berman, author of Rebels on Eighth Street