Gene Davis (USA, 1920–1985) was best known for his abstract Color field paintings. He studied liberal arts at the University of Maryland, and, upon graduation, served as a sportswriter and White House correspondent for the Transradio Press during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. In 1949, while still employed as a journalist, Davis took up painting, drawing inspiration from the Abstract Expressionist movement, and, particularly, from the works of Paul Klee. In 1950, Davis visited the Washington Workshop for the Arts, where he met painter and art historian Jacob Kainen, who became his mentor. Two years later, Davis landed his first solo exhibition of drawings at the Dupont Theater Gallery in Washington, D.C.
In 1958, Davis developed his characteristic style of rhythmic, colorful compositions of vertical stripes in acrylic paint. The painting Black Grey Beat (1964) is widely regarded as exemplary of his style and aesthetic. Critics and contemporaries identified him as a prominent member of the Washington Color School, an art movement that gained momentum in the late 1950s to mid-1960s, and included artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. Davis also gained distinction for his monumental public works, such as Franklin’s Footpath, on the street facing the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Niagara at Artpark in Lewiston, NY. Davis was the recipient of numerous honors in the later stages of his life and career, most notably his role as commissioner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He died in 1985, in his hometown of Washington, D.C. His works are included in the prestigious collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.