Considered one of the masters of 20th-century Photorealism, Davis Cone (b.1950, Augusta, GA) is known for wistful depictions of Art Deco-period cinemas in rural America. He received a BFA in 1972 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and did postgraduate work in photography and design at the University of Georgia until 1973. Cone began exhibiting regionally in 1977 and became one of Photorealism's leading figures after joining the group in the late 1970s. By 1981, Cone’s work had been shown in Tokyo, Lisbon, Madrid and Nuremberg, as well as cities throughout America.
Cone has devoted his practice to documenting old and sometimes run-down cinemas to convey nostalgia for a bygone age and show the endurance of America’s movie culture. He captures these vintage establishments in cities and suburban settings at various hours, from multiple angles, and in different weather systems and lighting, paying particular homage to his subjects' neon lights and architectural grandeur. Using dozens of photographs he takes at cinemas and their environs, Cone depicts scenes in which figures rarely appear or are only incidental to the image, capturing an atmospheric quality redolent of Edward Hopper.
Davis Cone’s first solo exhibition was at OK Harris Gallery, New York, in 1979. He has since had numerous solo exhibitions in New York. Significant institutional exhibitions include the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibit Contemporary American Realism since 1960 (1981); the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum’s Visions of NYC: American Paintings, Drawings, and Prints of the 20th Century (1981) and American Realism and Figurative Art: 1955-1990 organised by the Miyagu Museum of Art, Miyagi, Japan (1991). Recent landmark survey shows include Shock of the Real: Photorealism Exhibited at Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida (2009) and Photorealism: 50 Years of Hyperrealistic Painting (2013–2017), which started in Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany, before touring to 10 locations including Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, UK, and Tampa Museum of Art, Florida.
Davis Cone lives and works in Los Angeles.