Robert Davis (b. 1970) Amusement Park, 2020 Graphite on paper Courtesy of the artist and Luce Gallery, Torino, Italy


The Chrysler Museum of Art will go back in time to the late 1970s through the work of artist Robert Davis in HOME, on view March 5–July 3, 2021. Museum visitors will see 20 pencil drawings and one brand new sculpture depicting the childhood memories of the artist. Davis, a Norfolk native, presents spaces in the city that had special significance — the Ocean View Amusement Park, his childhood home and the residence he shared with other artists as a young man — to demonstrate how these locations influenced him.

“I first came to know Robert Davis’ work through another artist, and I was fortunate to visit his studio during a trip to New York. I was thoroughly impressed by his draftsmanship and loved how he drew Norfolk and conveyed his childhood memories. I was born in 1980, but many of Davis’ references are ones I recognize,” said Kimberli Gant, Ph.D., the Chrysler’s McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.

As the show’s title suggests, the artist is returning home and using his images to give different generations of people in Norfolk a taste of the city from his perspective. Additionally, the artist presents portraits of former sports stars such as Jerry Smith and Julius “Dr. J” Erving and artistic inspirations such as Barbara Hepworth and Agnes Martin.

Davis is elated to have an exhibition of his work in his hometown. “Presenting my work in the community where I was raised and within an institution that inspired me as a young artist is a kind of a homecoming, one that I hope offers dialogue to the people who come to the Chrysler and gives younger artists an opportunity for meaningful connection.”

Davis’ exhibition is primarily drawings, but his practice spans painting and wood carving as well. Davis has spent years focusing on drawing because “it is the starting point of making any object. A building, a chair, sculpture, painting or toothpick, you have to draw it out before you can realize it.” Though Davis creates fully realized drawings, he also makes sketches in other mediums to see and understand where he is going. Through this exhibition, we hope visitors will take a journey through their lives to remember important moments of discovery, both good and bad, and how they have helped them evolve over the years.

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