In 1912, James Oppenheim commemorated the struggle of striking textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts with a poem inspired by a banner carried by young women mill hands. The banner read, "We want bread and roses, too," affirming the biblical adage, "Man does not live by bread alone." Set to music by Mimi Farina and recorded by Judy Collins, the poem found new meaning in the 70s. The theme was adopted by New York's District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees for an unprecedented two-year project celebrating the arts and humanities that remains an annual event. With more than 70% of the district membership's being black or Hispanic, and almost 85% women, Davis chose an unidentified beautiful young black woman as his model. His painting of her, garlanded with wheat stalks and roses, became an icon of the period.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was an English statesman and novelist whose writing and speeches were marked equally by sharp wit, individual style and conservative convictions. As played by Ian McShane in the Masterpiece Theater series and captured here in an inimitable Davis portrait, you can almost hear him sounding forth on his trust of democratic Toryism, his belief in social reform and his pride in empire and crown.
Between 1975 and 1991, Davis created 51 posters for the New York Public Theater, the organization responsible for the free summer performances of Shakespeare in Central Park's open-air Delacorte Theater. One of the two plays offered during the 20th anniversary season was Henry V. Davis captures the countenance of Paul Rudd as the troubled young monarch.
Printed in 1982, it promotes the PBS Masterpiece Theatre production I Remember Nelson. This Davis portrait of Kenneth Coltey playing Admiral Horatio Nelson emphasizes the heroic side of the man who was both a naval genius and a notorious figure of scandal.
The image of Leonard Crow Dog, Sioux medicine man and prominent figure in the Native American community, advertises a documentary film concerning Sioux grievances with the U.S. government after the shameful violence of Wounded Knee. Accented with Davis' trademark stencil lettering, the portrait is full of dignity and silent outrage – a superb addition to his gallery of proud faces.
Poster portraits of the play's two leads: a pensive Meryl Streep with late actor John Cazale glowing in the background. Between 1975 and 1991, Davis created 51 posters for the New York Public Theater, the organization responsible for the free summer performances of Shakespeare in Central Park's open-air Delacorte Theater.
In 1979, MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) organized five sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden in an effort to activate anti-nuclear legislation. 40 artists performed, including a reunited Crosby, Stills and Nash; Bruce Springsteen; Jackson Browne; Bonnie Raitt; and James Taylor. As part of their fundraising effort, MUSE invited four famous New York City-based artists to create anti-nuclear or safe energy posters to be sold during the concerts. Unfortunately, the elaborate printing process was not completed until weeks after the event, and the posters were left in storage to be forgotten—until now. Paul Davis' solemn interpretation recalls early American paintings by artists like Grant Wood—but made contemporary with the clean border and typeface.
For this knockabout romantic comedy offered during the 22nd season of free summer Shakespeare, the sepia portraits of festival regulars Raul Julia as Petruchio and Meryl Streep as Kate are surprisingly serious. Between 1975 and 1991, Davis created 51 posters for the New York Public Theater, the organization responsible for the free summer performances of Shakespeare in Central Park's open-air Delacorte Theater.
"Originally written as a radio play for the NPR drama showcase Earplay, The Water Engine was first staged at The St. Nicholas Theater in Chicago and later at The Public Theater in New York by Steven Schachter. It opened on December 20, 1977 and ran for 63 performances. The cast included Dwight Schultz as Charles Lang, David Sabin as Morton Gross, and Bill Moor as Lawrence Oberman. On February 28, 1978, it transferred to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway as a double-bill with a short Mamet play entitled Mr. Happiness, and ran for 24 performances. In this production Patti LuPone was featured as Rita. The play was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play." - Wikipedia
Here, Davis portrays presidential candidate George McGovern as a populist surrounded by Americans of every age and stripe to emphasize his appeal as a healing force in the Vietnam War. McGovern ran as the Democratic candidate against Republican Richard Nixon and was badly defeated.
In order to invoke the bitter and prolonged strike of the California grape pickers against repressive working conditions, Davis painted an emblematic portrait of a young laborer. The name of Cesar Chavez, embattled head at the time of the United Farm Workers in Delano, California, was added to announce a concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall benefiting the cause. Support for the inflammatory issue not only lowered grape consumption in the United states, but resulted in International Grape Boycott Day on May 10, 1969.