Moyra Davey

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Moyra Davey
Born 1958
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Known for Photography, Video, Writing

Moyra Davey (born 1958) is a Canadian visual artist. Over the past three decades, Davey has built an increasingly influential body of work composed of photographs, writings, and video. As opposed to a current predilection for large-scale, digitally manipulated photographs, her seemingly modest works reclaim a practice of photography grown out of contingency and accident. Her camera often turns towards the unseen or the overlooked, as her subjects include dust, books, records, coins, empty whiskey bottles, coffee cups, gravestones, and people writing on the subway. Her practice presents a wide-ranging model of engagement with the world: a reflection on possibilities of producing and consuming, on writing and reading, on novelty and obsolescence, and on the future of images amidst an economy of profuse reproduction.

She currently lives and works in New York City and is a faculty member at the Bard College International Center of Photography Program.[1] Her work, "Copperheads", has been exhibited at the Guggenheim in New York City.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Moyra Davey was born in 1958 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[4] Davey began taking photographs as a teenager in an improvised darkroom in a closet making, quote: “lots (of) solarized, hippie-looking stuff.” [5] She initially attended art school for drawing and painting but dropped out after a year, later enlisting in the design program and finally photography at Concordia University in Montreal. Moyra Davey received a BFA from Concordia University in 1982 and a MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 1988. In 1989, she moved to New York and attended The Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.


Davey exhibited throughout the 1990s with Colin de Land’s gallery American Fine Arts Co., and from 2005-2008, she was a partner in the influential gallery Orchard. In 2008, Davey was the subject of a major survey at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, which coincided with the publication of Long Life Cool White, a monograph of her photographs and writings on photography. A survey of her work was on view the summer 2010 at the Kunsthalle Basel; this was her first solo exhibition in Europe, and marked the publication of an extensive catalogue on her work, with essays by George Baker, Bill Horrigan, Eric Rosenberg, and Chris Kraus.

Burn the Diaries, Davey’s solo exhibition of new work, was first exhibited at MUMOK, Vienna, and later on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia through December 2014. The exhibition was accompanied by a new publication. In April 2014, the Camden Arts Centre, London, mounted a large-scale survey exhibition of Davey’s work. In 2013, she had had solo exhibitions at the Tate Liverpool and Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver. Davey’s work was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and in the 2012 São Paulo Biennial. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Art Institute of Chicago, the CCS Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, amongst others.

Important exemplars of Davey’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the National Galley of Art, Washington, DC; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Prizes and awards[edit]

Art market[edit]

Moyra Davey is represented by Murray Guy gallery in Chelsea, New York [15] and Greengrassi [16] in London, England.

Public Collections[edit]


  • Les Goddesses / Hemlock Forest. Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes Press, 2017. ISBN 9780998632605
  • The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art[17]
  • I'm Your Fan. London: Camden Arts Centre, 2014
  • Burn the Diaries. Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes, 2014 ISBN 9780985337728
  • Empties. Vancouver: Presentation House, 2013.
  • The Wet and the Dry, Paris: Paraguay Press, 2011. Edited by castillo/corrales and Will Holder; ISBN 9782918252115
  • Galerie J Chronology, Boabooks, 2011. ISBN 9782940409280
  • Speaker Receiver, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010. Essays by George Baker, Bill Horrigan, Chris Kraus, and Eric Rosenberg, and an interview by Adam Szymczyk; ISBN 9781934105207.
  • Copperheads. Toronto: Byewater Bros. Editions, 2010. ISBN 9780978078935
  • Long Life Cool White: Photographs and Essays by Moyra Davey. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Art Museums; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Introduction by Helen Molesworth. ISBN 9780300136463
  • The Problem of Reading. Los Angeles: Documents Books, 2003. ISBN 0974260509 [18]
  • Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001. ISBN 1583220720



  1. ^ Bard College International Center of Photography
  2. ^ Davey, Moyra (2010). Coins, American -- Pictorial works. Toronto : Bywater Bros., 2010. 
  3. ^ "Copperheads No. 57". Guggenheim Collection Online. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Moyra Davey" Archived October 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., The Whitney Museum of American Art, Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  5. ^ Interview with Jess T. Dugan for Big Red and Shiny online art journal Archived March 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Exhibition : Ornament and Reproach, Murray Guy, New York, 2014
  7. ^ Exhibition : Spleen. Indolence. Torpor. Ill-humor, Murray Guy, New York, 2012 [1]
  8. ^ Exhibition : Les Goddesses, Greengrassi, London, 2011
  9. ^ Exhibition : Speaker Receiver, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland, 2010 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  10. ^ Exhibition : My Necropolis, Goodwater, Toronto, 2010
  11. ^ Exhibition : My Necropolis, Murray Guy, New York, 2009
  12. ^ Exhibition : Long Life Cool White, The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2008 Archived March 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Exhibition : Fifty Minutes, Goodwater, Toronto, 2007
  14. ^ Exhibition : Monologues (with Julia Scher), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, 2006
  15. ^ Murray Guy Gallery website
  16. ^ Greengrassi Gallery website
  17. ^ Greenough, Sarah; Nelson, Andrea; Kennel, Sarah; Waggoner, Diane; Ureña, Leslie (2015). The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art. ISBN 978-0500544495. 
  18. ^ The Problem of Reading available online at Murray Guy Gallery's website

External links[edit]