Bruce Davis; Curator at L.A. County Art Museum


Bruce Davis, curator of prints and drawings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for almost two decades, has died. He was 46.

Davis died Wednesday in Los Angeles of kidney failure, museum officials said Friday.

He joined the museum in 1979 as associate to its first curator of prints and drawings, Ebria Feinblatt, and worked with her until her retirement in 1985.

As curator, Davis organized major exhibits, wrote brochures and catalogs about the collections and handled major acquisitions in his department, particularly Italian 17th century drawings.

In 1995, he staged an exhibit and wrote the catalog about a key home-grown art print shop on its 25th anniversary, "Made in L.A.: The Prints of Cirrus Editions."

"What separated Cirrus from other print workshops in L.A.," Davis told The Times, "was their interest in Los Angeles. The artists tended to be younger and more experimental, post-minimal and conceptual, so it was a different emphasis.

"I think their publications brought the art that was being made in L.A. to a larger and broader audience. [Cirrus helped] put L.A. on the map as a center of contemporary printmaking."

Another of Davis' lauded exhibits was "A Tribute to Carlos Almaraz" in 1992, three years after the Chicano artist's death. It featured one of the major acquisitions on Davis' "wish list," a newly acquired Almaraz painting titled "Crash in Pthalo Green."

The exhibit also included a gift of 70 works on paper donated by the artist's family, which Davis termed "a significant addition to the museum's long history of . . . exhibiting in real depth the works of local contemporary artists."

The Almaraz exhibit was one of a series Davis staged in the early 1990s to showcase the museum's permanent collection of prints and drawings.

Born in Albuquerque, Davis grew up in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and earned his bachelor's degree from UCLA and his doctorate from UC Santa Barbara.

He is survived by his mother, Sarah Davis, of Santa Fe Springs; two brothers, Jim of Murietta, Calif., and Richard of Lake Zurich, Ill.; a niece; and three nephews.

The family has asked that any donations be made to the Bruce Davis Memorial Fund at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

A memorial service is scheduled at the museum at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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