LOT 036

1909 - 1977

acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated July 1974, inscribed "Toronto" and "Acrylic W.B." and stamped André Emmerich Gallery, New York
91 x 91 in, 231.1 x 231.1 cm

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

Sold for: $193,250

Preview at:

Collection of the Artist, July - September 1974
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, September 1974 - February 1976
Harcus Krakow Rosen Sonnabend Gallery, Boston, February 1976
Nathalie Swan Rahv, Boston, February 17, 1976 - 1983
Private Collection, Boston, 1983
By descent to the present Private Collection, Boston

Jack Bush made more than 1,850 paintings during the span of his career, painting from about 1926 until he passed away suddenly in 1977. Within this painted oeuvre, he made only 17 diamond-shaped paintings, and only eight of these paintings were painted on linen. In January 1974, Bush started out the year by making five diamond-shaped paintings on linen, all in line with his Totem series. In July 1974, he made three more diamond paintings, including Tilt, but this time the colourful figures on bare linen grounds were much more in keeping with his next series of paintings, known as the Feathers.

Unlike the Totem-style diamond paintings he made in January, the three diamond paintings made in the summertime involve two long feather-like shapes, each divided into multiple colours, which cross over each other. In Tilt, the feathers cross at their centres; in another painting, titled Gentle Criss, the feathers cross closer to the bottom, forming a scissor-like shape; and in the last of these paintings, called Right Angle, the two feathers cross in a manner suggested by its title – with one laid out horizontally and the other vertically.

Notably, two of the three July 1974 diamond-shaped paintings on linen remain untraced. Tilt is, to date, the only extant painting from this group. The last known whereabouts of Right Angle was in the collection of a Canadian politician known for charging ahead with new nationalist cultural policies under the government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The other missing painting, Gentle Criss, was last known to be in the collection of the well-known Colour Field painter Friedel Dzubas, who was friends with Bush. The two artists traded paintings with each other in February 1975.

The provenance for Tilt is also deeply interesting. At the time of the painting’s first point of sale, in September 1974, the André Emmerich Gallery in New York had exclusive rights to direct sales of Bush’s work in the United States, so if another American art dealer wanted to sell Bush’s work, they would have to purchase the painting from Emmerich first before being able to sell it to their own client. This explains why the Harcus Krakow Rosen Sonnabend Gallery in Boston purchased Tilt in February 1976. That gallery’s client was a woman named Nathalie Swan Rahv (1913 - 1983), who lived with the painting for eight years before she passed away and left it to her family. Rahv had been a student of the Bauhaus during its final year in 1933 and was a graduate of the architecture program at Columbia University. It is no wonder that someone trained in the principles of colour and structure, not to mention the power of simplicity, would fall in love with a painting like Tilt.

The year 1974 was a busy one for Bush, and particularly so in terms of solo exhibitions, with two in New York, one in Toronto and one at André Emmerich’s new gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. More exposure to a European market came as a consequence of his work being shown at the Cologne Art Fair. Back in North America, eight group exhibitions added to the near-constant appearance of his work in exhibitions that year. Amidst the swirl of these activities, he still made time for his art and, within his practice, totally new directions, from Totems to Feathers, not to mention the clever tilt of a painting to make a shining diamond.

We thank Dr. Sarah Stanners, director of the Jack Bush Catalogue Raisonné, contributor to the Bush retrospective originating at the National Gallery of Canada in 2014, and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, Department of Art History, for contributing the above essay.

This work will be included in Stanners’s forthcoming Jack Bush Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné.

Please note the condition report for this work.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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