Keith Davis (1954–1987) was an artist, collector, and designer who actively participated in the East Village art scene in the early 1980s.
Keith was a generous collaborator, inviting artists to use the materials and equipment he’d assembled at his Suffolk Street loft and at the offices of Artforum where he worked as a designer. Along with David, he worked with artists like Peter Hujar, Hope Sandrow and Nan Goldin (whose monograph The Ballad of Sexual Dependency he designed). He often traded artwork for design (like this portrait by Goldin).
He inspired David Wojnarowicz’s shop poster series by sharing the supermarket posters they are based on and his driftwood totem series by organizing an outting to the beach and bringing along the paints.
“Keith Davis was an incredibly creative person…,” explains Sur Rodney Sur. “It was Keith that went out and got all of the supermarket posters and said, ‘Oh, David, look; I found these supermarket posters. Here; why don’t you do something with them?’”
Keith Davis died of AIDS-related illness July 27, 1987.
Friends share memories of Keith Davis and his relationship with David in the audio clips below.
Learn more about Keith Davis’s work through Visual AIDS.