A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Ian Davidson's Yves Klein
Monday, June 11, 2007

I first met architect Ian Davidson around 1985 and I photographed him in Yaletown in relation to a project he was involved which was 7 story office building his firm, Davidson & Johnston was going to build. It was to be the beginning of a the Yaletown we now know. I took the shot where Mainland ends at Davie. At the time the old Connaught bridge (the one that had wood instead of pavement in the middle) was being replaced by what we now call the Cambie Street Bridge.

Yaletown, then, was surrounded by nothing and all those condos on Pacific Boulevard were yet to come. But some construction had begun in preparation for Expo 86. Two or three years later I found out that Davidson was a serious art collector. He was also a member of the board of the Vancouver Art Gallery. There are many who have said that Davidson and his pal Monty Clark of the Monty Clark Gallery could and yet can decide who sells well in Vancouver, who is a serious artist and who is not.

In Davidson's apartment I was attracted by this Yves Klein torso. The intensity of the blue was dazzling. Davidson told me that Klein had patented it and called it International Klein Blue. I remember taking at least 35 slides trying to decide where to place Davidson in relation to the red painting behind him. I had second thoughts of the almost white space at the bottom left. When I raised my camera the white disappeared but something else bothered me. In the end I settled for this angle and I obtained many variations. But this one I like as Davidson's almost smile contrasts with the cool blue. It's one of my favourite portraits but few have ever seen it.


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