- 1930-1981 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
76 cm of textual records
18 ring binders
2 folders of graphic material
Name of creator
John Hamilton Bush (1909–1977), primarily known as Jack Bush, was a Canadian painter best known for his Abstract Expressionist style. Born in Toronto, he lived in London, Ont. and Montreal during his early years. Jack Bush began his career in advertising, working in his father’s firm, Rapid Electro Type Company in Montreal. During this time, he studied at the Art Association of Montreal with Edmund Dyonnet and Adam Sherriff Scott. In 1928, he transferred to the company’s office in Toronto, where he took evening classes under Frederick Challener, John Alfsen and Charles Comfort at the Ontario College of Art. Bush’s early work as a painter was influenced by Comfort and the Group of Seven, and throughout the 1930s and ‘40s he produced largely landscape and figurative paintings. His first exhibition was with the Ontario Society of Artists in Toronto in 1936.
In 1934, Jack Bush married Mabel Mills Teakle, a family friend from Montreal, and together they had three sons, Jack Jr (b. 1936), Robert (b. 1938) and Terry (b. 1942). In 1953, dissatisfied with Canada’s place in the international contemporary art scene, Bush and several other Toronto abstract artists founded the group Painters Eleven. William Ronald, another member of Painters Eleven, and an artist who had worked in New York, introduced U.S. art critic Clement Greenberg to the group, which led to a lasting friendship between Bush and Greenberg. The contact with Greenberg in 1957 led to Bush’s international breakthrough in the early 1960s, beginning with his 1962 exhibition at the Robert Elkon Gallery in New York. Between the late 1950s and mid ‘60s, Bush painted in loose brushstrokes with diluted oils, staining paint onto unprimed canvas. In 1966, concerned by the health hazards associated with oil-based paints, he switched to water-based acrylics, less textured than oils but more brightly coloured.
In 1964, Jack Bush’s work was included in Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction at the Los Angeles County Museum, an exhibition that travelled to Minneapolis and Toronto. Along with Jacques Hurtubise, Bush represented Canada at the Bienal de São Paulo (Brazil) in 1967. In the year preceding his death in 1977 (from a heart attack), he received the Order of Canada. That same year, the Art Gallery of Ontario mounted a retrospective exhibition of his abstract works that travelled to several Canadian galleries. Jack Bush’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, London’s Tate Gallery and others.
The materials now constituting the Jack Bush fonds were retained by the Jack Bush family following the artist’s death in 1977 until it was transferred to the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1987.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
AGO Credit Line: Gift of the family of Jack Bush, 1987.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Fonds consists of personal and professional records of Canadian painter Jack Bush, created chiefly in Toronto during the 1930s to 1970s: his personal diaries; record books containing notes on his paintings; photographs (slides, transparencies, negatives and prints) largely of his paintings but also of his studio, exhibit installations and other subjects; with scrapbooks of newspaper and magazine clippings about the artist, exhibition notices, examples of his commercial art, and further records of his paintings.
- Record books
- Commercial art
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
No further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Access to Series 1: Diaries is restricted and requires the permission of the Jack Bush Estate. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright is held by the Estate of Jack Bush. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.
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Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Some photocopies of newspaper articles have faded.
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Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
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Originally prepared by Amy Marshall Furness and Gary Fitzgibbon, 2016
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019