T02382 YOUNG MAN 1969–71
Painted polyester, fibreglass and inert fillers, wool, cotton and leather, 71 × 20 × 11 (180.5 × 51 × 28)
Presented by Mme Andrée Stassart 1979
Prov: Purchased by Barry Miller through the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1972 for Mme Andrée Stassart
Exh: John Davies, Whitechapel Art Gallery, June–July 1972 (3, repr.)
‘Young Man’ is a self-portrait but was deliberately not titled so. It was started in 1969 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, where John Davies had a studio for a year, while teaching at the Cheltenham Art College. An art student made a mould from Davies' head and body and the sculptor himself made a mould from his hands. Davies made the cast in polyester resin in his studio in Faversham, Kent, though he may have started on the head in Stroud.
The jacket of the sculpture had been worn by Davies, but the rest of the clothing was bought in jumble sales and was not worn by him. The hair is a nylon wig and the hands and face were coloured with oil paint.
Davies was ‘trying to make a figure, not like a piece of sculpture, but more like a person.’ He was interested in what seemed to him to be ‘two worlds, the world of art and sculpture, the other the world outside the studio; there was such a disparity between them that I wanted to combine them. I wanted my sculpture to be more like life in the street.’ He did not intend his sculptural figures to be ‘more extraordinary than people we see around us’.
This catalogue entry is based on a discussion with the artist on to August 1979.
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981