PETER BUSA: INDIAN SPACE & BEYOND

Picture 0775 September – 11 October, 2008

ACME Fine Art’s opening exhibition of the Fall season will feature paintings and works on paper by the noted New York School artist Peter Busa. The exhibition will open to the public on 5 September 2008. A reception celebrating the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery is planned for the evening of Friday, 12 September from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. At a special Gallery Talk on Saturday 13 September 2008, at 1:00 p.m., Christopher Busa –the artist’s son- will present a lecture called The Life, Times, & Artwork of Peter Busa. All events are open to the public at no charge.

Peter Busa (1914-1985) was a central figure in the development of the New York School as it emerged in the early 1940s. During that time Busa -along with Matta, Baziotes, Pollock, and Motherwell- pioneered the development of automatic painting and drawing techniques that became identified with Surrealism initially and Abstract Expressionism later on. It was also during this period that Peter Busa’s work was exhibited regularly at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery in Manhattan, culminating with a solo exhibition there in 1946.

Busa’s early work is of two types. The first employed the automatic techniques that he and his Surrealist compatriots pioneered. Busa’s canvases of this type rely heavily on poured and/or dripped paint and date from the mid-1940’s typically. The second type of painting was commonly more geometric -often angular- and these paintings were heavily influenced by Native American art. It was Busa’s interest in Native American design motifs and the consequent balance of positive and negative aspects of space; however, that led to the development of the style of painting with which Busa’s name is most closely associated today: Indian Space Painting.

In fact, Peter Busa was one of a small group (which included Will Barnet and Steve Wheeler) of twentieth century American, avant-garde artists whose work was most profoundly influenced by Native American art and spirituality. Busa’s Indian Space Paintings bear witness to these influences with an aesthetic balance and primal strength all their own. It is important to note that even early on in his career Busa had an ability to synthesize and marry diverse ideas. This can be seen clearly in his efforts in the 1940s and 1950s to balance the positive and negative space in his automatically conceived paintings and drawings, while at the same time using –even celebrating- the spontaneously expressive event in his geometric paintings. This was in stark contrast to the approach taken by most of the artists working within the Indian Space idiom at that time.

During the 1950s and through the 1960s and 1970s Busa began to explore the expressive limits of abstraction on one front and those of geometric minimalism on the other, often working at the extreme ends of the spectrum, and at other times somewhere in between. By the 1980s Busa had once again begun to synthesize and marry the ideas that he continued to find compelling. His late work does achieve a successfully integrated amalgam of approaches to color, form, and expression in a visually convincing way that is completely original, and unique to Peter Busa.

ACME Fine Art’s second solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by Peter Busa will take a retrospective view of the artist’s career. The artwork is drawn from private collections as well as from the estate of the artist, and has been chosen and organized to illustrate the connections between the variety of formal conceits described above. The exhibition will include a select group of Indian Space Paintings, important Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist works, and an excellent selection of paintings that defy such simple categorization. Collectively the artwork dates from between 1945 and 1983.

Peter Busa’s work has been widely exhibited since his inclusion in the New York World’s Fair exhibition in 1939. Since that time his work has also been included in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, to name a few. It is also worth noting that canvasses by Busa were included in eight Whitney Museum of American Art Annual Exhibitions between 1946 and 1972. Work by Peter Busa is in the permanent collections of all of the Museums listed above.

ACME Fine Art’s exhibition of paintings by Peter Busa will open on 5 September and run through 11 October 2008. For further information about this artist or exhibition, or other gallery events please contact the gallery at 617.585.9551, or via e-mail at info@acmefineart.com.

ACME Fine Art and Design is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116. Summer Hours are 11:00 to 5:00 Tuesday through Saturday, and other times by appointment.