Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Joseph Downing

 (1925 - 2007)
Joseph Dudley Downing was active/lived in Kentucky, Illinois / France.  Joseph Downing is known for abstract, non-objective painting, sculpture, design.

Joseph Downing

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Joseph Downing
Following is the obituary of the artist

Horse Cave, Kentucky native and internationally renowned artist Joseph Dudley Downing died Dec. 29, 2007, at the age of 82.  Downing passed away in the village of Menerbes in the Provence region of France, a place where he kept a home for over 40 years.

Born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky on Nov. 15, 1925, Joe Downing was one of eight children born to Aldridge Clifton and Katie Burton Goodman Downing.  He grew up in Horse Cave, where he attended elementary and high school, graduating in 1943 as valedictorian of his class.  Downing spent his youth observing and exploring the caves and landscape around him, unknowingly laying the groundwork for his amazingly creative works of art.  Downing's work has long been known for his unique combination of media and technique, demonstrating a dedication to his personal artistic vision which he proudly acknowledged was rooted in his Kentucky home place.

Following his 18th birthday in November, 1943, Downing was inducted into the United States Army, where he served as an artillery observer in Europe during World War II.  He was assigned to a unit that landed at Normandy soon after D-Day and the unit was engaged in a distinguished record of service leading to the end of World War II.  Downing, himself, earned the Bronze Star with the citation for courage in action.  While in Europe, Downing caught a brief glimpse of Paris, the city that would become his home in 1950 and where he maintained an apartment and studio until his death.

Following his return to the United States, Downing enrolled at Western Kentucky University for a portion of the 1945-46 school year, a time when he began to recognize his enthusiasm for art with the encouragement of Ivan Wilson.  Following his parents' wishes, Downing turned his attention to preparation for a career in optometry when he enrolled in and graduated from the Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.  During that time, however, Downing also took classes at the Chicago Art Institute.  In 1950, following his graduation, Downing went to Paris forwhat was to be a three-month stint, only to find that he could not bring himself to leave.  In 1952, Downing had his first one-man show, attended by Pablo Picasso, whose simple words of "well done" were encouragement enough to spur Downing on.

Downing's work is owned by such museums as the Paris Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as the Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green, the Speed Museum in Louisville and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.

Collectors around the world own his work and in 2008 the Joe Downing Museum will open as a featured part of the Jerry Baker Home and Arboretum in Bowling Green. He had showings across the globe, including Tokyo and much of Europe, as well as several shows over the years in Kentucky. Downing's natural creativity led him to write several books of poetry and, most recently, a book about growing up in Horse Cave.

Aside from his love for his art, Downing had no greater passion than that for his family.  He is survived by his brother, George William Downing of Bowling Green; his sister, Sara Downing Taylor and her husband Arnold Taylor of Bowling Green; and his brother, Dero Goodman Downing and his wife Harriet of Bowling Green, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins in Kentucky and across the country. He was devoted to friends around the world, with a particular dedication to those in Bowling Green and Menerbes.

He is preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Sarah Wanda Downing and Elizabeth Downing Burks; and his brothers, James Aldridge Downing and Charles Alexander Downing.
Plans for a memorial service are unknown at this time. The body will be cremated. And according to Downing's wishes, a portion of the ashes will be scattered at the foot of the Luberon Mountains in France and a portion in Horse Cave.
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.


Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Joseph Downing

Featured Artist Joe Dudley Downing 1925-2007
By Ronnie Jaggers, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Internationally renowned native son Joe Downing holds the distinction of being one of three Americans to exhibit work at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.?? His art has been exhibited in France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Germany, and other countries.  He has had exhibitions in Owensboro, Bowling Green, Louisville and Horse Cave, as well as Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Charleston, West Virginia, Atlanta, and Seattle.

Mr. Downing has permanent collections of his works in such museums as the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as WKU's Kentucky Museum and Library in Bowling Green, the Speed Museum in Louisville and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art and around the world in the Paris Museum of Modern Art and in Belgium, Luxembourg, Israel, Australia, and Canada.

??Born in Horse Cave, Joseph Dudley Downing lived his last forty years in the village of Menerbes in the Provence region of France.  Downing served in the United States Army, during World War II where he visited Paris and fell in love with France.  He kept an apartment and studio in Paris until his death.  Downing's brother, George, was the last to talk to him before his death.  George told family members that Downing had commented that he had no regrets and loved every moment of his life, but he had remorse because he didn't get to see his family very often.??

Mr. Downing attended Western Kentucky University and was encouraged by none other than Ivan Wilson.  He went on to Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago as his parents were hoping to steer him toward a "worthy career" although he was already in love with art and took classes at the Chicago Art Institute. 

After his graduation in 1950, he took a small vacation in Paris and found he could not leave. Joe Downing had his first one-man show that was attended by Pablo Picasso, who after admiring his work said, "well done".  Collectors around the world own Downing's work.?? His contemporary art style is abstract with brilliant colors done not only on canvas.  He painted on animal bones, leather, terra cotta roof tiles, wood and other materials as well.

Mr. Downing was also a writer and published two books of poetry and articles about the art world.?? Each year the Capitol Arts Alliance hosts the Jack E. Lunt Memorial Exhibit. This year, they are proud to be exhibiting Joe Downing's works.  Mr. Jerry Baker is sponsoring this show and sharing with us his collection of Joe Downing's paintings.  The exhibit started September 16th and runs through October 6, 2008 at the Ervin G. Houchens Gallery on the square in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Also, this year the Joe Downing Museum will be opening as a featured part of the Jerry Baker Home and Arboretum in Bowling Green.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Joseph Downing

Born:  1925 - Tomkinsville, Kentucky
Died:   2007 - Menerbes, France
Known for:  abstract, non-objective painting, sculpture, design