Jack Bush

About Jack Bush

Jack Bush

Jack Bush (1909-1977) was born in Toronto but spent his youth in London and Montreal where he studied at the Royal Canadian Academy. At an early age, Bush became a successful graphic artist, working first at his father’s firm, Rapid Electro Type Company, in Montreal. Relocating to Toronto in 1928, his interest in painting grew through contact with members of the Group of Seven, the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Group of Painters.

Bush worked as a commercial artist producing illustrations for magazines and advertisements for products including Molson’s beer. At the same time through the 1930s, he studied at the Ontario College of Art and painted. Bush painted landscapes en plein air in watercolour, gouache and in oil. He continued to work in graphic design until his retirement in 1968.

Bush’s exposure to the Abstract Expressionists in New York City in the 1950s changed his direction in painting. He became a member of the Painters Eleven, an artist collective committed to abstraction, active in the Toronto area from 1953 to 1960; he organized their first show in 1954.

Bush also became friends with the renowned art critic Clement Greenberg, who traveled to Toronto in 1957 to visit artist’s studios. Greenberg encouraged Bush to pursue his abstract inclinations and helped move his career forward, including him in the ground-breaking Post-Painterly Abstraction exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964.

Bush was chosen to represent Canada at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1967, after which his art found considerable commercial success in the United States. In 1972, Bush was the subject of the inaugural survey exhibition in the modern wing of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Four years later, the Art Gallery of Ontario organized a major touring retrospective of his work. Jack Bush died at the age of 68 in 1977, one year after he received the honour of Officer of the Order of Canada.

Photo C 3-1-0-0-93, Archives of Ontario