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LOT 019

Jack Hamilton Bush

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ARCA CGP CSGA CSPWC OSA P11
1909 - 1977
Canadian

Burgundy
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated Nov. Dec. 1968 and inscribed "Toronto" and "Acrylic Polymer W.B." and variously on labels and with the Douglas Udell inventory #DUGS 11750 on the gallery label
84 x 68 in, 213.4 x 172.7 cm

CAD

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

PROVENANCE
Collection of the Artist
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
Harcus-Krakow Gallery, Boston
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Victoria
Winchester Galleries, Victoria
Private Collection, Toronto
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Private Collection, Edmonton

LITERATURE
Paula Miner, “Modern Art Group to Open Four-Week Show in Museum,” Toledo Blade, March 6, 1970, reproduced page 19
Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush: Illusions of Transparency," ARTnews, vol. 70, no. 1, March 1971, reproduced page 43
Terry Fenton, Jack Bush: A Retrospective, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1976, reproduced, unpaginated
Marytka Kosinski, “Adventures in Color,” Edmonton Journal, 1977
Karen Wilkin, editor, Jack Bush, 1984, essay by Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush in Retrospect,” reproduced page 121
Karen Wilkin, Color as Field: American Painting, 1950 – 1975, American Federation of Arts, 2007, page 117 and reproduced page 87
Marc Mayer and Sarah Stanners, Jack Bush, National Gallery of Canada, 2014, pages 26, 204, and 205, reproduced page 249

EXHIBITED
Harcus-Krakow Gallery, Boston, Jack Bush, 1970
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Jack Bush: A Retrospective, 1976, Edmonton location only, catalogue #29
American Federation of Arts, Color as Field: American Painting, 1950 – 1975, traveling in 2007 – 2008 to the Denver Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Jack Bush, November 13, 2014 – February 22, 2015

Burgundy is a rare and beautiful painting—it’s just that simple. It belongs to Jack Bush’s Fringe series, which he began in 1968 amid the summer he made the move from painting at home to painting in a large studio space on Wolseley Street, in downtown Toronto. The series was short-lived, spanning less than two years, although variations on this style of composition continued for at least another four years.

Burgundy is one of only 20 paintings with a classic Fringe format, completed in December 1968, before the artist began to experiment by adding calligraphic shapes and cyphers to his pictures. In the strictest sense, a model Fringe painting is characterized by a dominant field of singular colour bordered on one side, typically the right or bottom edge of the canvas, with relatively short sections of many different colours positioned perpendicular to the edge, in a manner that resembles a fringe extending from the hemline of a curtain.

Describing Burgundy and a few other paintings of the same caliber—namely Blue Studio (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), This Time Yellow (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto), and Fringe Off Blue Grey (private collection)—curator Kenworth Moffett praised the Fringe series, stating:

In 1968 Bush got control of the dazzling acrylic colour by using a dominant “field.” The effect is of a gay little sequence of angles and colours shouldering a big blast of monochrome.… As a group, they show a power and bold assurance new in Bush’s art. From now on he was after the big broad contrasts and forceful impact.[1]

Moffett’s observation on how Bush had mastered acrylic colour is an important one; to elaborate on his point, painting a monochrome field requires total fluency in the material that delivers that singular colour. Significantly, the artist made the switch to water-based acrylic paints in March 1966, and from that point on, he used them exclusively when working on canvas, until his last painting, in 1977. Before March 1966, Bush used oil or Magna paints on canvas, the latter being a solvent-based acrylic resin paint. Since, at that time, he was still painting at home, the noxious nature of these materials, especially when thinned, were a major irritation to his wife, Mabel, whose eyes became sore and swollen from the fumes. This unfortunate circumstance compelled him to switch to water-based acrylic paints.

Bush needed some time to find his footing in this new material before he felt confident enough to paint most of his canvas one bold colour. It took him two years to settle on the right balance between his paint and an additive to thin the medium sufficiently to achieve a thin but consistent layer of paint that could deliver a punch of pigment -- a perfectly lucent hue and yet not too translucent that the boldness of colour is lost. Burgundy is the painter’s opus in this respect: Bush has managed to communicate the most velvety dark red through an impossibly thin application of paint, to the extent that the canvas is not so much painted with a burgundy-coloured paint, but the picture simply is burgundy.

Bush had the ability, and the bravery, to make colour his subject. Equating abstract art to music, he once explained in an interview that capturing the feeling of a subject rather than its likeness was “a hard step for the art loving public to take, not to have the red look like a side of a barn but to let it be the red for its own sake and how it exists in the environment of that canvas.”[2] Burgundy is about burgundy, but it is also a composition that feels like achievement, assuredness, warm conversation, and whatever you feel when you behold this exemplar of Colour Field painting.

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.

1. Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush in Retrospect,” in Jack Bush, ed. Karen Wilkin (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, in assoc. with Merritt Editions, 1984), 36.

2. Jack Bush in conversation with Art Cuthbert, CBC Radio, September 1976, in “Some Thoughts on His Painting by Jack Bush,” in Duncan Macmillan, Jack Bush: Paintings and Drawings, 1955 – 1976 (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1980), 20.

Estimate: $300,000 - $500,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business. Bidders must ensure they have satisfied themselves with the condition of the Lot prior to bidding. Condition reports are available upon request.

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ARCA CGP CSGA CSPWC OSA P11
1909 - 1977
Canadian

Burgundy
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated Nov. Dec. 1968 and inscribed "Toronto" and "Acrylic Polymer W.B." and variously on labels and with the Douglas Udell inventory #DUGS 11750 on the gallery label
84 x 68 in, 213.4 x 172.7 cm

CAD

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

PROVENANCE
Collection of the Artist
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
Harcus-Krakow Gallery, Boston
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Victoria
Winchester Galleries, Victoria
Private Collection, Toronto
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Private Collection, Edmonton

LITERATURE
Paula Miner, “Modern Art Group to Open Four-Week Show in Museum,” Toledo Blade, March 6, 1970, reproduced page 19
Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush: Illusions of Transparency," ARTnews, vol. 70, no. 1, March 1971, reproduced page 43
Terry Fenton, Jack Bush: A Retrospective, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1976, reproduced, unpaginated
Marytka Kosinski, “Adventures in Color,” Edmonton Journal, 1977
Karen Wilkin, editor, Jack Bush, 1984, essay by Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush in Retrospect,” reproduced page 121
Karen Wilkin, Color as Field: American Painting, 1950 – 1975, American Federation of Arts, 2007, page 117 and reproduced page 87
Marc Mayer and Sarah Stanners, Jack Bush, National Gallery of Canada, 2014, pages 26, 204, and 205, reproduced page 249

EXHIBITED
Harcus-Krakow Gallery, Boston, Jack Bush, 1970
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Jack Bush: A Retrospective, 1976, Edmonton location only, catalogue #29
American Federation of Arts, Color as Field: American Painting, 1950 – 1975, traveling in 2007 – 2008 to the Denver Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Jack Bush, November 13, 2014 – February 22, 2015

Burgundy is a rare and beautiful painting—it’s just that simple. It belongs to Jack Bush’s Fringe series, which he began in 1968 amid the summer he made the move from painting at home to painting in a large studio space on Wolseley Street, in downtown Toronto. The series was short-lived, spanning less than two years, although variations on this style of composition continued for at least another four years.

Burgundy is one of only 20 paintings with a classic Fringe format, completed in December 1968, before the artist began to experiment by adding calligraphic shapes and cyphers to his pictures. In the strictest sense, a model Fringe painting is characterized by a dominant field of singular colour bordered on one side, typically the right or bottom edge of the canvas, with relatively short sections of many different colours positioned perpendicular to the edge, in a manner that resembles a fringe extending from the hemline of a curtain.

Describing Burgundy and a few other paintings of the same caliber—namely Blue Studio (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), This Time Yellow (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto), and Fringe Off Blue Grey (private collection)—curator Kenworth Moffett praised the Fringe series, stating:

In 1968 Bush got control of the dazzling acrylic colour by using a dominant “field.” The effect is of a gay little sequence of angles and colours shouldering a big blast of monochrome.… As a group, they show a power and bold assurance new in Bush’s art. From now on he was after the big broad contrasts and forceful impact.[1]

Moffett’s observation on how Bush had mastered acrylic colour is an important one; to elaborate on his point, painting a monochrome field requires total fluency in the material that delivers that singular colour. Significantly, the artist made the switch to water-based acrylic paints in March 1966, and from that point on, he used them exclusively when working on canvas, until his last painting, in 1977. Before March 1966, Bush used oil or Magna paints on canvas, the latter being a solvent-based acrylic resin paint. Since, at that time, he was still painting at home, the noxious nature of these materials, especially when thinned, were a major irritation to his wife, Mabel, whose eyes became sore and swollen from the fumes. This unfortunate circumstance compelled him to switch to water-based acrylic paints.

Bush needed some time to find his footing in this new material before he felt confident enough to paint most of his canvas one bold colour. It took him two years to settle on the right balance between his paint and an additive to thin the medium sufficiently to achieve a thin but consistent layer of paint that could deliver a punch of pigment -- a perfectly lucent hue and yet not too translucent that the boldness of colour is lost. Burgundy is the painter’s opus in this respect: Bush has managed to communicate the most velvety dark red through an impossibly thin application of paint, to the extent that the canvas is not so much painted with a burgundy-coloured paint, but the picture simply is burgundy.

Bush had the ability, and the bravery, to make colour his subject. Equating abstract art to music, he once explained in an interview that capturing the feeling of a subject rather than its likeness was “a hard step for the art loving public to take, not to have the red look like a side of a barn but to let it be the red for its own sake and how it exists in the environment of that canvas.”[2] Burgundy is about burgundy, but it is also a composition that feels like achievement, assuredness, warm conversation, and whatever you feel when you behold this exemplar of Colour Field painting.

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.

1. Kenworth Moffett, “Jack Bush in Retrospect,” in Jack Bush, ed. Karen Wilkin (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, in assoc. with Merritt Editions, 1984), 36.

2. Jack Bush in conversation with Art Cuthbert, CBC Radio, September 1976, in “Some Thoughts on His Painting by Jack Bush,” in Duncan Macmillan, Jack Bush: Paintings and Drawings, 1955 – 1976 (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1980), 20.

Estimate: $300,000 - $500,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business. Bidders must ensure they have satisfied themselves with the condition of the Lot prior to bidding. Condition reports are available upon request.

[ translate ]
Sale price
Unlock
Estimate
Unlock
Time, Location
23 Nov 2023
Canada
Auction House
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