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LOT 019

Jack Hamilton Bush
1909 - 1977

Poster for Lincoln Center
gouache and acrylic on illustration board
on verso signed, titled, dated June 1974 and inscribed "Toronto"
40 x 25 in 101.6 x 63.5 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000

Sold for: $79,250

Preview at:

Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton / Vancouver, December 1994
Private Collection, Vancouver

In June 1974, Jack Bush produced three gouache paintings in response to a request for artwork that would serve as a poster image for the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City (July 22 – August 24, 1974); he titled the three candidates Poster for Lincoln Center, Poster for L.C. – Grey Arc and Poster for L.C. – Green Arc. In fact, he had made four gouache paintings with the Lincoln Center commission in mind, but Bush’s wife Mabel favoured the fourth, so he decided to give her the painting as a gift, which he titled Fast Swirl.

In late May 1974, Alkis Klonaridis, manager of the David Mirvish Gallery (DMG), in Toronto, had connected Bush with one of the trustees of the Lincoln Center, who had been impressed by Bush’s paintings at the André Emmerich Gallery in New York. By the end of the first week of June, Bush presented the three gouaches to the DMG, and they selected the present painting to be sent to the Lincoln Center for reproduction. Bush agreed to sign 150 copies of the poster, which measures 69 3/4 x 37 inches (177.2 x 94 cm) and is now a collector’s item amongst vintage-poster connoisseurs.

Although Bush signed a limited number of the posters, he did not sign the front of the original gouache painting. This was, however, the norm for original paintings that Bush planned to reproduce. For example, virtually all of Bush’s paintings that were selected for reproduction as limited edition serigraphs bear no original signature on the front of the painting or even in the margins. He did, however, sign the back of the artwork. For example, Bush’s gouache Poster for L.C. – Green Arc boasts the artist’s signature on the recto and verso of the illustration board. Those unaware of the artist’s habits might wrongly assume that no signature alongside the image brings a lesser value when, in fact, it may well be an indication that the image is a prized original selected for wider distribution.

Compared to the other paintings that did not make the cut for the poster, this chosen work was the tallest of the totems, including five sections of colour. Bush called this style of painting a totem but the word “totem” merely denotes the totemic structure of the stacked colours; Bush was not making a meaningful connection to the totem poles of the First Nations. In 1974, Bush was mostly thinking about music, which makes the subject of the poster all the more fitting.

Bush was evidently pleased with the results of his painting-turned-poster, since he chose to hang the poster in his Wolseley Street studio. There it remained for the rest of his life, above a table full of working tools including bowls, jars of paint and instant coffee.

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 assistant 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.

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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