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Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork

Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork book cover

Jazz great Miles Davis was also a visual artist. Davis began painting in the 1980s, first as therapy after suffering a stroke, but he became obsessed with it. In a recent interview with radio personality Tavis Smiley, Davis’ son Erin Davis and nephew Vincent Wilburn Jr. told Smiley about his passion for painting and drawing. They said that Miles Davis had two bags with him all the time, his trumpet bag and another bag with pens, pencils, pads of paper, etc. He worked on his sketchbooks everywhere; the dining room table, airplanes, cars, and hotel rooms. He painted for his own enjoyment and gave many paintings away to friends, but he also was pleased when people wanted to buy his paintings. Davis studied with New York painter Jo Gelbard, developing a distinct graphic style, incorporating bright colors and geometric shapes. There have been a number of exhibitions of Davis’ paintings since his death in 1991, however he did few exhibitions of his painting when he was living. During the interview with Tavis Smiley, his son noted that he once did an exhibition with musician John Mellencamp.

Painting by Miles Davis
Painting by Miles Davis

A new book of Miles Davis’ artwork was recently released, Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork. The publisher, Insight Editions, says the following about the book: “Over the last two decades, the Estate of Miles Davis has worked with gallery owners and private parties to assemble a comprehensive collection of the musician’s artwork.” Author Scott Gutterman sat down with Miles Davis before Davis’ death and the artist’s own commentary accompanies his work. The book includes a foreword by musician Quincy Jones, reflections by Erin Davis and Vincent Wilburn Jr., and an afterword by Miles Davis’ daughter Cheryl Davis.

If you are in the Los Angeles area you may want to attend the book release reception and exhibition hosted by the Miles Davis family at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Hollywood, Saturday November 9, 2013. Contact the gallery for more information.

Visit the Pop Life Art homepage for many more links to musicians that paint.