Davis was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899, Gerald Vivian Davis began his first studies of drawing while in the Diplomatic Corps in Berne, Switzerland. During this time, he became a Swiss national tennis champion.
He later went to Paris to study painting at the Academie Julian, L'ecole des Beaux-Arts and Le Grande Chaumiere. While in Paris, he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne and Societe Nationale des Beaux Artes.
Back in the United States shortly before World War I, Davis taught at the University of Illinois where he became an intimate of Thomas Hart Benton. He also taught at the University of Kansas.
In 1929, with his Danish wife, Esther, Davis returned to Paris and remained there until the onset of World War II.
While in Europe, he exhibited at the 1937 World's Fair and in prestigious galleries, in Paris, Copenhagen and London.
He was the subject of one-man shows in the United States and throughout Europe. Davis also held a Fellowship at the Tiffany Foundation in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
He and his wife moved back to the United States in 1942 and resided in Summit, New Jersey, until his death in 1987.
Gerald Davis' works have been selected for major public, private and museum collections around the world. For the last twenty years of his life and for fifteen years after his death, Davis' paintings were under wraps and out of circulation. His paintings were discovered in 2003 when his Summit, New Jersey home was finally sold.