New York — Curator Helen Molesworth has selected thirty-one paintings by Noah Davis, painted between 2007 to his untimely and truly tragic death in Ojai, California in 2015, for an exhibition at David Zwirner, New York. Davis was a co-founder of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles along with Karon Davis, his wife, and assisted by family and friends, including his brother Kahlil Joseph, a film and video artist. Molesworth was also associated with the museum in its early days while she was still a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA] in Los Angeles.
The Zwirner show finally brings a significant selection of Noah Davis paintings to a much wider and more international audience that has previously known him most probably through the reputation of the Underground Museum, if at all.
The Underground Museum initially gained notoriety by responding to a lack of cooperation from main stream museums and collectors to get art work loaned to it for exhibitions by staging shows populated by recreations of work by top-shelf artists, such as Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, and Dan Flavin et. al., constructed by Davis and others from inexpensive raw materials sourced via Craigslist or local stores, thus turning on its head Arthur C. Danto’s famous question regarding the epistemological status of a work of art and an identical object indistinguishable from it.
One thing we get from this exhibition is that Davis’s deeply considered interactions with art history were not confined to his work at the Underground Museum. His paintings are full of various forms of art history reference, often with an interesting twist. The work itself has a muted and painterly consciousness of mood and atmosphere, at times suffused with almost Giorgione-esque mystery.
The exhibition will be at David Zwirner’s 525 and 533 West Nineteenth Street New York city spaces through 22 February 2020.