In 1976, David, erotic photographer Roy Stuart and David’s friend Richie Stotts formed a band called The Numbers, with David on bass. The group was a fixture in New York’s early punk rock music scene, playing in clubs alongside punk pioneers Television, Blondie and The Ramones.  David also played bass with punk innovators Jerry Nolan of The New York Dolls, Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys, Marky Ramone, Peter Gordon, David Van Teighem and the free-improvisation noise music group Borbetomagus.

In 1977, The Numbers became the infamous punk music/performance art band The Plasmatics, fronted by the radical Wendy O. Williams. Despite the band’s success, the attention David began to gain as an important voice in the art world caused him to leave the music scene to pursue his burgeoning painting career.

David’s first one-man show was in 1981 at the historic Sidney Janis Gallery. That year he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, at the time the youngest artist ever to have that distinction, and in 1982 he was awarded an American Academy of Arts and Letters prize. He went on to exhibit at galleries worldwide and was represented by Knoedler & Co. for the next 25 years.

David is best known for using the encaustic technique of painting, which uses pigment combined with heated beeswax. David built his early career on abstraction and religious iconography, which formed the bulk of his output until 1999. Since then he has also experimented with representational painting and traditional photography.

In 2000, he developed the “Chortens” and “Populations” series, about which prominent art historian and critic Donald Kuspit writes: “They are enigmatic works, all the more so because of the way their innumerable details form singularly monumental, intimidating wholes. Dense yet delicate, awesome yet intimate, they convey the fragility as well as grandeur of sheer being. Layer upon layer of paint piles up like layer upon layer of coral, but the textural result is more epic, not to say startling, than any coral island, and virtually any other existing abstract expressionist painting (upon which they are stylistically founded).”

In 2001, David developed bi-lateral neuropathy due to being poisoned by gases released by overheated beeswax used in the encaustic process. The disease left him with partial paralysis of his legs, slowing the production of his painting for a number of years. That year, David began painting one of his best-known series, the “fallen Toreadors”, inspired by 19th century French Realist painter Édouard Manet‘s “The Dead Toreador” of 1864. Of the series, David has said, “My work (became) about compassion. Compassion for those different from us, compassion for each other, and, most importantly, compassion for oneself, for a painter who was reckless enough to hurt himself doing what he loves most.”

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

November 15-2013-January 7-2014
The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta , GA

October 15, 2010 – January 3, 2011
Post-Mammalian Tension –
Michael David & Scott Browning
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

November 4 – 28, 2010
New Paintings
The Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale AZ

May 13 – July, 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

July 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
The Chmar Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2010
Michael David: New Encaustic Works
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

November 15-2013-January 7-2014
The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta , GA

October 15, 2010 – January 3, 2011
Post-Mammalian Tension –
Michael David & Scott Browning
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

November 4 – 28, 2010
New Paintings
The Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale AZ

May 13 – July, 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

July 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
The Chmar Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2010
Michael David: New Encaustic Works
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

November 15-2013-January 7-2014
The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta , GA

October 15, 2010 – January 3, 2011
Post-Mammalian Tension –
Michael David & Scott Browning
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

November 4 – 28, 2010
New Paintings
The Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale AZ

May 13 – July, 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA

July 2011
Michael David: New Paintings
The Chmar Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2010
Michael David: New Encaustic Works
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA