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Jack Hamilton Bush

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ARCA CGP CSGA CSPWC OSA P11
1909 - 1977
Canadian

Green Over Blue
oil on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated November 1965 and inscribed "oil" and with the Douglas Udell inventory #DUG 20104 on the gallery label
80 3/4 x 53 1/4 in, 205.1 x 135.3 cm

CAD

Preview at:

PROVENANCE
Collection of the Artist
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection
Private Collection, Toronto
Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's Canada in association with Ritchie's, November 19, 2007, lot 153
Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Private Collection, Edmonton

This glowing composition, with softly curving sides and a sky-blue sash, was first painted in the summer of 1965 and titled Rediscovery. Jack Bush kept his hand light in the making of this painting; he thinned his oils with turpentine and encouraged the medium to soak into the canvas. He approached the soak-stain technique delicately, first sizing the substrate with rabbit glue to avoid total saturation through the weave of the canvas. The final effect is like warm breath fogging a cool window: the colour blooms like a soft cloud across the surface. As effortless as the application might appear, the margin for error when painting with thinned oil paints is extremely small. Furthermore, once a canvas is cut, there is no redo or restore button, and this is where the artist’s touch was not so light, at least the first time around.

As with all his paintings, Bush duly listed Rediscovery in his record book of paintings, but by November of the same year, he added a note to the record: “re-painted Fall 1965.” He did not actually paint over the initial painting; instead, he literally repainted the original picture, but this time on a new cut of canvas. This second time around he titled it Green Over Blue. How he came to this decision is a story traced through accounts in his diary and in photos he took before and after he painted it twice.

On August 30, 1965, the artist’s friend and famed art critic Clement Greenberg arrived in Toronto and proceeded directly to the Bush household, where he stayed the night. The next morning, he and the artist began to look at Bush’s recent work. Bush kept his paintings rolled up in his studio at home, making them easy to store and ship out when needed. He had grown accustomed to allowing his dealers to stretch his canvases. After looking at 18 pictures, Greenberg noticed with some astonishment that Bush had trimmed a few of his canvases so tightly that no raw edge remained. He blasted Bush for being so hasty and pointed out that cutting before he stretched the painting left him no wiggle room for adjustments later. Greenberg spotted three such examples and encouraged Bush to repaint the pictures; Rediscovery was included in this recommendation.

Between November and December 1965, Bush painted the composition anew, this time leaving enough space around the edges to allow room for final alterations before framing. He titled this painting Green Over Blue. It is an interesting case of recovery rather than revision. There are two extant photos of Rediscovery: the first shows the initial state of the painting, which is virtually identical to Green Over Blue, and the second shows the impossibly tight cropping he later inflicted on Rediscovery, which had eliminated the slim side panels and left no edge for the stretching process. Bush was not in the habit of photographing his work in process, so these two photos indicate that he must have felt they were complete. Since he had documented Rediscovery before it was cropped, Greenberg’s suggestion to repaint the picture must have been informed by seeing its original state.

While the double life of one abstract composition is highly unusual, it is not without precedent. Another 1967 painting, Giant Step, was completely repainted anew in 1970, but the impetus for its redo was to replace the original, which had been destroyed in a fire. Having cropped Rediscovery too tightly was not as tragic as a fire, but it was equally irrevocable. Painting the initial concept afresh proved to be worthy not only in the eyes of the painter and the critic. Future audiences appreciated the work’s strength too. In 2007, Green Over Blue set a new auction record for the artist. Like a great song that might have been lost to the public due to a damaged first recording, this painting was remastered but not reimagined; the idea was bright to begin with and continues to shine.

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

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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Time, Location
23 Nov 2023
Canada
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[ translate ]

ARCA CGP CSGA CSPWC OSA P11
1909 - 1977
Canadian

Green Over Blue
oil on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated November 1965 and inscribed "oil" and with the Douglas Udell inventory #DUG 20104 on the gallery label
80 3/4 x 53 1/4 in, 205.1 x 135.3 cm

CAD

Preview at:

PROVENANCE
Collection of the Artist
David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection
Private Collection, Toronto
Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's Canada in association with Ritchie's, November 19, 2007, lot 153
Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Private Collection, Edmonton

This glowing composition, with softly curving sides and a sky-blue sash, was first painted in the summer of 1965 and titled Rediscovery. Jack Bush kept his hand light in the making of this painting; he thinned his oils with turpentine and encouraged the medium to soak into the canvas. He approached the soak-stain technique delicately, first sizing the substrate with rabbit glue to avoid total saturation through the weave of the canvas. The final effect is like warm breath fogging a cool window: the colour blooms like a soft cloud across the surface. As effortless as the application might appear, the margin for error when painting with thinned oil paints is extremely small. Furthermore, once a canvas is cut, there is no redo or restore button, and this is where the artist’s touch was not so light, at least the first time around.

As with all his paintings, Bush duly listed Rediscovery in his record book of paintings, but by November of the same year, he added a note to the record: “re-painted Fall 1965.” He did not actually paint over the initial painting; instead, he literally repainted the original picture, but this time on a new cut of canvas. This second time around he titled it Green Over Blue. How he came to this decision is a story traced through accounts in his diary and in photos he took before and after he painted it twice.

On August 30, 1965, the artist’s friend and famed art critic Clement Greenberg arrived in Toronto and proceeded directly to the Bush household, where he stayed the night. The next morning, he and the artist began to look at Bush’s recent work. Bush kept his paintings rolled up in his studio at home, making them easy to store and ship out when needed. He had grown accustomed to allowing his dealers to stretch his canvases. After looking at 18 pictures, Greenberg noticed with some astonishment that Bush had trimmed a few of his canvases so tightly that no raw edge remained. He blasted Bush for being so hasty and pointed out that cutting before he stretched the painting left him no wiggle room for adjustments later. Greenberg spotted three such examples and encouraged Bush to repaint the pictures; Rediscovery was included in this recommendation.

Between November and December 1965, Bush painted the composition anew, this time leaving enough space around the edges to allow room for final alterations before framing. He titled this painting Green Over Blue. It is an interesting case of recovery rather than revision. There are two extant photos of Rediscovery: the first shows the initial state of the painting, which is virtually identical to Green Over Blue, and the second shows the impossibly tight cropping he later inflicted on Rediscovery, which had eliminated the slim side panels and left no edge for the stretching process. Bush was not in the habit of photographing his work in process, so these two photos indicate that he must have felt they were complete. Since he had documented Rediscovery before it was cropped, Greenberg’s suggestion to repaint the picture must have been informed by seeing its original state.

While the double life of one abstract composition is highly unusual, it is not without precedent. Another 1967 painting, Giant Step, was completely repainted anew in 1970, but the impetus for its redo was to replace the original, which had been destroyed in a fire. Having cropped Rediscovery too tightly was not as tragic as a fire, but it was equally irrevocable. Painting the initial concept afresh proved to be worthy not only in the eyes of the painter and the critic. Future audiences appreciated the work’s strength too. In 2007, Green Over Blue set a new auction record for the artist. Like a great song that might have been lost to the public due to a damaged first recording, this painting was remastered but not reimagined; the idea was bright to begin with and continues to shine.

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

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 ]
Estimate
Unlock
Time, Location
23 Nov 2023
Canada
Auction House
Unlock