Society of Fellows


SOF NEWS April 2014

Paul Davis signs copies of his poster for the silent film Napoleon, 2012
Photo: Geneva Anderson
Paul Davis, Portrait of Che Guevera, 1967
Courtesy: AIGA
Michael Larvey in Pompeii
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The brilliance of Paul Davis, dear friend Michael Larvey passes

Late last year graphic artist, painter, illustrator, art director, and SOF council member Paul Davis, FAAR 1998 talked about his work at the University of Tulsa School of Art, which is not far from Centrahoma, Oklahoma, where he was born in 1938. Those who think they don't know his work may be surprised by how familiar it is. He arrived in New York in the late 1950s where he began a long career creating imagery that forever imprinted itself on popular culture, from phone booth ads to covers of Time Magazine, and posters for plays and movies. Davis was the first American artist to have work exhibited at the Pompidou Center in Paris when it opened in 1977. In 2012 he was commissioned by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival to design a poster for Abel Gance's 1927 mastepiece Napoleon. His most famous work may be his iconic image of Che Guevera that appeared on the cover of Evergreen Review, then became a poster that symbolized the late 1960s for an entire generation. He was awarded the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Medal in 1989, and, of course, the Rome Prize. Lately, he has been graciously designing posters for the Academy's annual Cabaret. 

After a valiant battle with cancer, Michael Larvey, a big presence at the Academy and in Rome, died in Austin on the Spring Equinox, 2014. John Clarke, RAAR 1995 his partner for 36 years, was at his side. Michael and John had gotten married (finally!) on 9 December 2013. Michael collaborated with John, working at archaeological sites throughout Italy and Greece to create original photographs that have been published widely; he was also an accomplished interior designer. Above all we’ll remember Michael as a larger-than-life personality who loved Rome deeply, who valued friendship above all else, and whose Epicurian sensibilities brought joy to many.