The national collection of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) was recently enriched with the addition of Pink with Border, a remarkable painting made by Canadian painter Jack Bush in 1967. The work came as a bequest of Rosita Tovell.
“Jack Bush is a key figure in the development of abstract painting in Canada in the years following the Second World War. This remarkable gift has unique significance within his corpus, and is particularly moving to me as it follows closely on the artist’s retrospective that we organized last year at the National Gallery. What a beautiful way for us all to remember Rosita Tovell who, as well as being an astute collector of Canadian art, gave so many years of service to the National Gallery as a volunteer,” said NGC director Marc Mayer.
Pink with Border is an important example of Bush’s work from the late 1960s, arguably his most accomplished period. It joins a small, but significant, group of works by the artist in the national collection: Tall Spread (1966), Big A (1968), Summer, No. 3 (1956), and Salute to New York (1958). Visitors may now see the work, which is on display in the Canadian collection gallery A113.
A unique work
Adam Welch, Associate Curator of Modern Canadian Art at the NGC, describes the work as “remarkable in its simplicity and exuberance.” “Pink with Border,” he continues,
“seems to be unique in Bush’s oeuvre. While characteristic of his painting during the period, it departs significantly from the morphologies Bush favoured at the time. Against a pink ground, four overlapping strips weave a frame within a frame. The relationships between the five colours in the work are harmonious and carefully chosen. Ever the colourist, Bush manages to border yellow and pink without losing the intensity of either.” To find out more, look for the upcoming article by Adam Welch in the NGC Magazine.
About Rosita Tovell
According to Jack Bush’s record books, now part of the Jack Bush fonds at the E.P. Taylor Research Library and Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario, Pink with Border was painted in October 1967, and sent to David Mirvish Gallery in 1968. That same year, Bush notes that the work was “Sold to Mr. and Mrs. Freeman Tovell, Ottawa.” It was Rosita Tovell, however, who was enamored by the painting at first sight—she exchanged prints by the artist in order to secure the work. While living in Ottawa, Tovell served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Canada and she was a founder of the National Gallery Association (now Friends of the National Gallery). She died in Victoria on June 22, 2014, and the painting came to the National Gallery of Canada in accordance with her wishes.
About Jack Bush
The life of Jack Bush (1909–1977) is the story of a mid-century Toronto illustrator who became an avant-garde abstract painter. By day a talented commercial artist, he spent long years perfecting his representational techniques. His efforts earned him a name in this field for 40 years. In Toronto, he joined Painters Eleven (1953–1960) and helped awaken a new public to abstract painting in Canada. Through Bush’s involvement with Painters Eleven, in June 1957 he met the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg, who would become a mentor and friend. At the age of 52, he was one of the first artists of his generation to carve out a place in the international art world. He finally retired from commercial art in 1968 and devoted himself full-time to painting for the last nine years of his life. Last year, the National Gallery of Canada organized Jack Bush, an eponymous exhibition painting the world’s first full picture of the work of this great Canadian artist. The exhibition ran from November 13, 2014 to February 22, 2015.
Connect with the Gallery
The NGC is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open from noon until 5 pm on 11 November (Remembrance Day). Open between December 26 and 31. Closed on December 25 and January 1. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.
Admission to the national collection: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca
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