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LOT 026

1909 - 1977

Blue Slant
acrylic on canvas
on verso signed, titled, dated June 1967 and inscribed "Toronto" and "Acrylic polymer W.B."
57 x 149 1/4 in 144.8 x 379.1 cm

Estimate: $500,000 - $650,000

Preview at:

Collection of the Artist, July - September 1967
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, September 1967 - April 18, 1972
Samuel Lindenbaum, Brooklyn, New York, April 18, 1972
Sold sale of Art for Industry, Christie’s New York, February 23, 1990, lot 49
Gallery One, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Private Collection, Montreal
Han Art, Montreal
Private Collection, Toronto
Sold sale of Post-War & Contemporary Art, BYDealers, November 6, 2017, lot 41
Private Collection, Montreal

Emily Wasserman, "Review: Emmerich Gallery," Artforum, vol. 6, no. 3, November 1967, page 60

André Emmerich Gallery, New York, Jack Bush, 1967

Looking closely at Blue Slant reveals that Jack Bush’s abstracts are anything but hard-edged; they are full of touch. Occasional quivers, bleeds and crossovers of colour are seen in the thin, unpainted lines between each bold bar of yellow, green, purple, magenta, blue and more. These in-between anomalies do not blemish the picture - they are markers of the artist’s hand. His imperfect strokes are like evidence of a pulse – the life in the painting. The viewer should walk alongside its lines for the most intimate sense of its soak-stained skin.

With Bush, the emphasis is always on colour. Writing for Artforum, Emily Wasserman reviewed the artist’s 1967 show at the André Emmerich Gallery in New York City and observed:

Often, one or two bars will catch the major accent, as in Blue Slant, Shower, or V-Cut-2, where the widest orange “zipz” in the center triangle almost bounces out in front of the other hues. But usually, saturation is so even that any contrasting effects are dulled by the uniformity of application and value.[1]

The dominant bar in this painting is, as its title suggests, the blue slanted one at centre. It is the largest of them all in this composition but, as Wasserman noted, it remains on par with the other bars in the painting, since it is equally saturated with colour. While the blue is not overpowering, it is the obvious protagonist onstage, creating a pull or tugging sensation upon observation. Reviewing the same exhibition of large striped paintings by Bush in New York, Robert Fulford of the Toronto Star newspaper wrote about a similar painting, Soft Left, which sold last year at auction for well above estimate: “The eye reads the picture as a scene of tension: Violence contained within outward serenity.”[2] The same could be said for Blue Slant – it is a gentle giant, with great bands of colour pressed taut across the canvas, each deserving attention but evenly presented.

A measure of Bush’s international success at this time is the impressive fact that all of his paintings shown in the 1967 solo show at the Emmerich Gallery were sold to US-based collectors and galleries. As Fulford noted in his review: “His new show can only have the effect of making him an even more solid presence on the international scene.”[3] In 1967 alone, Bush’s work was shown at many important public venues, including the National Gallery of Canada, Expo 67 in Montreal, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the IX Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil.

The first private collector to own Blue Slant was Samuel H. Lindenbaum (1935 - 2012) of Brooklyn, New York, who purchased the painting from the Emmerich Gallery in 1972. Lindenbaum was, according to his lengthy obituary in the New York Times, “widely considered New York City’s top zoning lawyer and who was credited with doing as much as any of the powerful developers among his clients to shape the modern skyline of Manhattan.”[4] Lindenbaum’s client list was impressive, including Harry B. Helmsley, Harry Macklowe, Larry A. Silverstein, Jerry I. Speyer, and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Lindenbaum was a generous honorary trustee with two galleries in his name. The Met’s galleries for West African art and Meso-American art became the Samuel H. and Linda M. Lindenbaum Galleries in 2010.

It may have been Lindenbaum’s respect for the negotiation of space that attracted him to Blue Slant. Like New York City, the arrangement of shapes and colours in Blue Slant is a tight but dazzling fit. Measuring nearly 5 feet in height and more than 12 feet in length (or 144.8 cm x 379.1 cm, to be exact), Blue Slant no doubt competed for real estate on the walls of Lindenbaum’s Park Avenue apartment, and it must have won the attention of everyone in the room, as it does to this day.

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.

Blue Slant will be included in Stanners’s forthcoming Jack Bush Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné. The deadline for new submissions or updates to the first print edition of the catalogue raisonné is December 31, 2020.

1. Emily Wasserman, “Jack Bush, Emmerich Gallery," Artforum, vol. 6, no. 3, November 1967, 60.

2. Robert Fulford, “Bush and Hurtubise: Bigger and Better,” Toronto Daily Star, September 27, 1967, 39.

3. Ibid.

4. David W. Dunlap, “Samuel H. Lindenbaum, ‘Dean’ of New York Zoning Lawyers, Dies at 77,” New York Times, August 21, 2012.

Estimate: $500,000 - $650,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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