Peter Busa   1914-1985

Education:
Carnegie Institute, with Simboli, Rosenberg, Kostello, Benton
Art Students League
Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art

Exhibitions:
Worlds Fair, New York, 1939
Walker Art Center
Art of this Century, Peggy Guggenheim, 1946
American Federation of Arts, “Young Painters USA”
Whitney Museum of American Art
Art Institute of Chicago, 1940
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1946, 1951-54
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1954
Chrysler Museum, 1959 (retrospective)
Ford Foundation, 1962 (prize)
Parrish Art Museum
Carlebach Gallery
Bertha Schaefer Gallery, 1949-51

Member:
Art Students League

Collections:
Smithsonian Institution
Guggenheim Museum
Walker Art Center
Whitney Museum of American Art
Chrysler Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Everson Museum
Collections continued:
Butler Institute of American Art
Dayton Art Institute
Parrish Art Museum
Portland Art Museum
Tweed Museum of Art
Rutgers University
University of North Carolina
University of Minnesota
Syracuse University
Smith College
Cornell University
Brandeis University
Provincetown Art Association and Museum
Colby College
Cooper Union Museum
Cornell University
University of Massachusetts
Minneapolis Art Institute
Michigan State University

Commentary:
Peter Busa was a central figure in the New York School, a truly original thinker, and a pioneer of modern art. Though difficult to categorize, his work was clearly influenced by his close associations with Matta, Pollock, Motherwell, Baziotes, Kamrowski, and Hofmann.

His early work is of two types. The first was based on the automatic technique of the Surrealists. The paintings of this type rely heavily on poured or dripped paint and date from the mid-forties typically. The second type of painting was more geometric -often angular- and these paintings were heavily influenced by Native American design motifs. These are commonly referred to as “Indian Space paintings.” Busa’s Indian Space paintings date from the late thirties to the late fifties. After abandoning Indian Space for styles more closely akin to straightforward abstract expressionism and geometric abstraction during the sixties and seventies, Busa returned to an evolved form of Indian Space painting in the eighties.

In his introduction to the catalogue for Peter Busa’s 50 year retrospective exhibition: Life Colors Art, Robert Metzger summarized Busa’s career by saying: “…Busa has presented problems for…art historians since his highly original and diverse body of work and his mastery of styles…have made him difficult to pigeonhole. His expansive repertory of forms defies translation into verbal language for they reveal truths which cannot be expressed in words. …despite his successful exhibitions with such leading galleries as Peggy Guggenheim, Carlebach, and Bertha Schaefer he [has not yet] made it into the celebrity bandwagon of dealers,…collectors, and the art press. The personal poetry and awesome range and depth of his body of work remains one of the great undiscovered treasures of Twentieth Century American art….”


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