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 Kenneth Southworth Davies  (1925 - )

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/Massachusetts      Known for: trompe still life, figure and genre painting, teaching

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Kenneth Davies
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based in part on information from the web site of Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Kenneth Davies became a noted still-life painter and long-time art teacher, living in Madison, Connecticut.  He was also Dean of the Paier School of Art* in New Haven.  As a commercial artist, he created the logo for Wild Turkey bourbon.

He attended the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston, and after two years in the Army, studied at the Yale School of Fine Arts*, graduating with a B.F.A. in 1950.  His teaching career began at the Whitney School of Art and continued at the Paier School in New Haven, Connecticut where he served as Dean.

At the time of a retrospective exhibition titled, "Ken Davies: 35 Years, A New Bedford Homecoming," Richard Kugler, Director, Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts, wrote:  "His subjects are very much his own, carefully organized and precisely rendered.  So, too, is the mastery with which he brings us familiar objects freshly seen.  His impish wit lies close to the surface; his confidence in his craft is everywhere apparent."

A reviewer in Art Digest, wrote: "Kenneth Davies' trompe l'oeil* paintings exhibit a visual observation so acute and a technical handling so precise that the spectator is not willing to give up the illusion that he can actually grasp a pencil or tear a piece from a torn envelope until he is within a foot of the canvas."

Davies describes his personal history with the following account:  "In the early years, I did three pieces of work that were major milestones for me and which have determined the course of my painting career.  The first of the three was a drawing I did in the fourth grade.  My teacher, Miss Sweeney, had decided to turn an art assignment into a class competition. I'm not sure why, but I decided to draw a cow. This "masterpiece" has long since disappeared, but I remember working very hard on it and when it was finished, I remember being very proud of it. I thought I had a rather elegant cow and that she stood a very good chance of winning a prize in the competition.  My impatient wait for the results of the judging seemed endless but, finally, Miss Sweney announced her decision--Ken Davies had won first prize!  I was ecstatic.  Up to that time, I had been just another dull little kid in the fourth grade, but now, with a mere sweep of my HB pencil, I was an overnight celebrity!

This was pretty heady stuff, and it became obvious to me that my lifework would now be in art.  The only career I had seriously considered before this auspicious moment was that of a garbage man (I was very impressed with the trucks they drove.)  But now, here was something that excited me even more.  Thanks to Miss Sweeney's impeccable judgement, the art world was about to be invaded by the best artist in the fourth-grade class at the H.A. Kempton School! That was how it really started, and since then I haven't had a serious interest in any other career."

Davies describes his second significant work as his first oil painting, declaring the medium "love at first sight" after struggling with watercolor. His third significant work, done while he was a student at Yale, determined that he was going to be a still-life painter, and sparked his interest in trompe l'oeil effects, the history of which was the subject of his B.F.A. thesis.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Biography from Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden:
Born: 1925, New Bedford, Massachusetts


Massachusetts School of Art, Boston
Yale School of Fine Arts, B.F.A., 1950
New England School of Law, Boston
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, 1980

Positions Held:

1950-1953 Instructor, Whitney School of Art, New Haven, CT
1953-1957 Instructor, Paier School of Art, New Haven, CT
1958-1981 Dean, Paier School of Art, Hamden, CT
1981-1991 Visiting Professor and Dean Emeritus, Paier College of Art

One Man Shows:

1951 Hewitt Gallery, New York City
1965 Grand Central Gallery, New Canaan, CT
1965 Silvermine Guild, New Canaan, CT
1969 Banfer Gallery, New York City,
1971 25 Year Retrospective, New Britain Museum, New Britain, CT
1975 Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York City
1978 Retrospective, Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York City
1980 Fitchberg Museum, Fitchberg, MA
1982 Whistler's Daughter Gallery, Basking Ridge, NJ
1983 35 Years, A New Bedford Homecoming, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA
1986 Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York City
1987 Tiasquam Gallery, Martha's Vineyard, MA
Greene Art Gallery, Guildford, CT
1988 Tiasquam Gallery, Martha's Vineyard, MA
1989 Greene Art Gallery, Guildford, CT
1990 Artist of the Year: Fairfield Festival of the Arts, Fairfield, CT
1992 Greene Art Gallery, Guildford, CT


1972 U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamps, Pharmacy
1976 U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamps, Chemistry
1983 U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamps, Metropolitan Opera
1999 White House Historical Association, painting of the north portico lantern celebrating the 200th anniversary of the White House in a year 2000 commemorative calendar

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

Kenneth Davies is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Trompe l'Oeil Painting

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