LOT 014

1909 - 1977

acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated August 1969 and inscribed "Acrylic Polymer W.B." and "Top"
39 x 90 in, 99.1 x 228.6 cm

Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000 CAD

Sold for: $301,250

Preview at:

Collection of the Artist, August - December 1969
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, December 1969 - November 17, 1971
Sigmund E. Edelstone, Chicago, November 17, 1971 - circa 1976
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1976 - November 1976
Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton, November 1976
Albert White Gallery, Toronto
Acquired from the above by a Corporate Collection, Toronto, June 23, 1980
Post-War & Contemporary Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, May 29, 2019, lot 44
Private Collection, Toronto

William Raiser et al., “The Quintessential Design for Art,” Architectural Digest, vol. 28, no. 6, May - June 1972, pages 12 - 23

Flip by Jack Bush puts a positive spin on his Spasm series, made just a few months before this painting. That series came about in spring 1969 in response to the artist's diagnosis with a heart condition known as angina, which gave Bush tension in his chest, along with an irregular heartbeat. Like the Spasm paintings, the composition of Flip is set off by a section of brightly coloured stripes - but instead of a flurry of boomerang-shaped checks, Flip boasts one large, elongated boomerang in pale pink. The whisper-tone colour of this shape works well against the clean spring green, but these two soft colours are by no means meek alongside the pop of primary colours (plus orange). The green and pink together also serve well to create a sprightly feeling in keeping with the painting’s title. A curious dash of white at the far right tip of the arcing shape is a unique feature that puts a stop to any possible accusation of high design ruling over fine art in this painting.

In terms of the timing of its execution, Flip is also in close proximity to Bush’s very first mottled ground paintings, Irish Rock #1 and #2, which were painted in October 1969. With these two paintings, Bush used a roller and unmixed paints to achieve a textured look that is reminiscent of the rocks he saw when traveling through Ireland. Looking closely, we see that the light-green ground on Flip is applied with a roller, but the artist was more interested in creating an even tone across the canvas, with the paint so thinly and seamlessly applied that it appears as if the canvas is innately coloured rather than painted.

The André Emmerich Gallery first purchased Flip from the artist in 1969. In 1971, Emmerich sold the painting to Sigmund E. Edelstone, a Chicago-based contemporary art collector who made his fortune founding Dupli-Color, the automotive paint company that offers “true match” touch-up paint colours to the do-it-yourself market. The May/June 1972 issue of Architectural Digest dedicated a multi-page spread to exploring Edelstone’s passion for perfect matches as expressed in his apartment, designed under the direction of Arthur Elrod. Bush’s Flip painting was one of the chosen artworks for Edelstone’s extraordinary Chicago pad, along with works by Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, David Smith, Hans Hofmann, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and other masters of twentieth-century art. Architectural Digest described Edelstone as “the perfectionist’s perfectionist” and, in true form for the swinging seventies, noted that “Bachelor Edelstone’s dedication to perfection precludes the possibility of adding a wife to the premises. ‘Where would I put her? Where would she hang her clothes? This is a bachelor’s apartment. I’ve made no provisions for a wife.’ However, every provision was made for important works of art.”

The article goes on to explain that Edelstone would bring photos of prospective artworks to the interior designers, and that no decision was final on design until the artwork was decided upon. A design sketch for Edelstone’s Chicago apartment, now in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, demonstrates the priority of the art over design; in this case, Hofmann paintings are placed proudly and dominantly over a modern, and relatively modest, living-room design. Elrod explained that for Edelstone, “It wasn’t a matter of going into a gallery and saying, ‘I’ll buy that.’ He studied art, artists and thought out his collection long before he even purchased the apartment.” Edelstone even managed to convince Robert Motherwell to make a diptych to custom specifications and rigged them to an automated system that made the two paintings act as a window covering that could smoothly separate or bring together the two canvases. The Edelstone apartment took three years to complete, reaching its unveiling in 1972. Bush’s Flip was painted in 1969, purchased in 1971 and at home at Edelstone’s in 1972.

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 Sarah Stanners’s forthcoming Jack Bush Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné.

Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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