Lot Sale Results

Jack Hamilton Bush
Fall 2015 - 1st Session Live auction

Lot # 018

Jack Hamilton Bush
ARCA CGP CSGA CSPWC OSA P11 1909 - 1977 Canadian

Long Green
acrylic polymer emulsion on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated January 1973, inscribed "Toronto" and "Acrylic Polymer W.B." and stamped Jack Bush Art Estate on a label
65 3/4 x 32 3/4 in  167 x 83.2cm

Provenance:
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto, 1973
Estate of the Artist
Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto
Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art, Calgary
Sold sale of Important Canadian Art, Sotheby’s Canada in association with Ritchie's, November 20, 2006, lot 172
Private Collection, Montreal

Literature:
Hilton Kramer, “Boston Gambles with Bush,” The Globe and Mail, March 2, 1972, page 12
Kay Kritzwiser, “Sex Is Subtle in Etrog Sculptures,” The Globe and Mail, December 2, 1972, page 30
Theodore Allen Heinrich, "Jack Bush: A Retrospective," Artscanada, Vol. 34, No. 1, March/April 1977, page 8
Marc Mayer and Sarah Stanners, Jack Bush, National Gallery of Canada, 2014, pages 28 and 40

Exhibited:
Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art, Calgary, Jack Bush: Paintings, 1959 - 1973, October 23 - November 20, 2004

Painted sometime between the calligraphic works of 1972 and the Totem series of spring 1973, this work might initially seem to sit uncertainly within Jack Bush’s oeuvre. He only painted in this style, with rectilinear forms pushed to the edges of the mottled canvas ground, from October 1972 to February 1973, making this one of the briefest of Bush’s stylistic experiments.
In the 2014 Jack Bush exhibition catalogue, Sarah Stanners noted that Bush “aimed to resolve problems, often extending his process of resolution through a series of paintings...because he had found a way out, or a way in, to his satisfaction.” The relatively few paintings in this style therefore do not suggest dissatisfaction with the format, but instead suggest Bush resolved whatever issue he had set out to tackle.
In early 1972, Bush opened the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s new contemporary galleries, to rave reviews by the likes of the New York Times's Hilton Kramer, who called Bush “one of our best living painters.” In Canada, his work was selected for the Ontario Society of Artists’ 100th-anniversary retrospective, for the National Gallery of Canada’s touring show Toronto Painting: 1953 - 1965, and featured heavily in Joan Murray’s Painters Eleven retrospective. These exhibitions allowed Bush to examine the evolution of his work and the place of his practice alongside his Canadian peers. The year 1972 was capped off by a solo show at the David Mirvish Gallery of the verdant calligraphic works of spring/summer 1972. The works in the show were lauded by Kay Kritzwiser as “purely beautiful colour landscapes.”
After all this praise and recognition, Bush did what he had so often done in his career: he turned 180 degrees away from what had "worked" towards something new - in this case, an almost radical simplicity of form. In these works, exemplified here by Long Green, Bush pulls back from the suggestion of imagery (with titles such as June Garden replaced with dates, abstract phrases or descriptors of the works themselves), as well as from the “handwriting” of loops, splotches and slashes. Instead, he simplifies forms to their logical conclusions: horizontal or vertical bars that echo the edge of the canvas, flattening any sense of illusion created by the speckled grounds while maintaining the figure/ground relationship. Here, Bush seems to be in conversation with his Colour Field peers, especially Jules Olitski, whose sprayed works of the mid-1960s similarly featured stripes or dots of colour near the edges, deployed in an effort to affix the otherwise ethereal colour clouds to the canvas.
Bush’s greatest source of inspiration, however, is his own past works. Here we see him liberating the stripes of the 1967 works or 1970s Series D works (for comparison, look to 1969’s Juxta, featured in the recent Bush retrospective in Ottawa), giving each colour band its own space within the picture plane. We see the interplay between these reduced forms and the mottled grounds he began using in late 1969, which Marc Mayer astutely noted “simulate texture, not perspective,” here in his trademark palette of blues and greens. This combination both troubles and reaffirms Bush’s artistic quest: the work is both non-specific in its “imagery” and idiosyncratic in its rolled ground, both radically simple and infinitely varied, both echoing his peers and uniquely his own. If, as suggested by Georg Wilhelm Hegel, progress is in the synthesis of the thing and its opposite, the thesis and antithesis, then it is no wonder Bush moved on shortly after the completion of this work: he had successfully synthesized some of his previous career highlights and, in so doing, could move forward.
We thank Elizabeth Went, project coordinator and lead research assistant for Jack Bush Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné, for contributing the above essay.
This work will be included in Sarah Stanners's forthcoming Jack Bush Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné.

Estimate: $90,000 ~ $120,000 CAD

Sold For: $141,600.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)


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