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Untitled 1965 by Gene Davis

Untitled 1965 by Gene Davis

This is painting and its companion piece exemplifies Davis' exploration of the dynamics of colour and space through the use of hard-edged stripes; his use of this strategy spanned a period of twenty-seven years. Despite their appearance of a carefully structured arrangement of colours, they were not based on any conscious formula or theory. Davis compared his technique to that of a musician 'playing by ear' - he referred to his approach as 'playing by eye'.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum quotes Davis as suggesting to the viewer of his work that "instead of simply glancing at the work, select a specific color—and take the time to see how it operates across the painting.—Enter the painting through the door of a single color, and then you can understand what my painting is all about." In discussing his stripe work, Davis spoke not simply about the importance of color, but about 'color interval:' the rhythmic, almost musical, effects caused by the irregular appearance of colors or shades within a composition.