Jack Bush

Jack Bush
Born March 20, 1909
Toronto, Ontario
Died Jan 1977
Toronto, Ontario
Nationality Canadian
Movement Abstract expressionism; Color Field, Lyrical Abstraction, and Post-Painterly Abstraction
Field Painting
Works View Complete Works

Jack Bush was one of Canada’s most noted and successful abstract painters. He was born in Toronto in 1909 and died in 1977. He produced a large body of work most often associated with something called “Color Field.” This was a style or school of painting that emphasized canvases filled with large blocks of colors, often flat tones and hues spread across a broad plane.

The works of Jack Bush could also be considered abstract modernism. It is interesting, then, that one of the earliest influences of Bush was the painter Charles Comfort, whose style was often realistic with only hints of modernism. This suggests that Jack Bush was an artist with his own vision. He took the essentials of Comfort’s style and reinterpreted it in his own abstract way. Another important influence on Bush was American art critic Clement Greenberg. At first, Greenberg was highly skeptical of Bush as an artist of talent, but decided to mentor him anyway, which led to Greenberg’s acceptance of the Jack Bush vision.

It was in the 1950s that Jack Bush developed and solidified his style. He was a member of an influential group of Canadian artists called the “Painters Eleven.” Essentially, these were artists who were determined to achieve acceptance for modernist and abstract art in Canada – which was not easy to do. Much of the work of this group, including that of Bush, was often met with disgust, scorn and disdain. For example, a Painters Eleven’s work might be a canvas painted red, with one blue line moving along the side. It was difficult for millions of people to accept something which seemed so simple as “great art.”

But Bush and his compatriots eventually won out. Their colorful abstract works gained steady traction and came to be accepted as works of significance. His country recognized him as a national treasure. Bush represented Canada at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1967. His works were also accepted into the prestigious Art Gallery of Ontario in 1976. He was also honored on a Canadian postage stamp, which displayed one of his works.

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