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Louis Bunce, Blue Landscape

Louis Bunce, Blue Landscape (1978), oil on canvas [Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem OR, Jan 21-Mar 26] Collection of Dorothy and Brooks Cofield

Louis Bunce: Dialogue with Modernism

Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Salem OR – Jan 21-Mar 26, 2017

Louis Bunce, Burned Land No. 2

Louis Bunce, Burned Land No. 2 (1951), oil on canvas [Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem OR, Jan 21-Mar 26] Collection of Olivia Leiken Schmierer

Louis Bunce, Big Green

Louis Bunce, Big Green (1960), oil on mattress ticking [Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem OR, Jan 21-Mar 26] Tacoma Art Museum

This major retrospective chronicles 57 years of work by Louis Bunce (1907-1983), a mid-20th century modern artist. Based in Portland, Oregon, Bunce went to New York in the late 1920s to study at the Art Students’ League, where he developed ongoing friendships with artists like Jackson Pollack and David Smith. By the time Bunce returned to Portland – roughly a decade later – he was an established artist on the East Coast, maintaining strong ties with several famous artists of the New York School throughout his career. Bunce exhibited regularly during the 1950s and ’60s in New York galleries and was included in shows at the Whitney and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Considered a Northwest legend, the ambitious artist was also a passionate and influential teacher who inspired a generation of Portland artists, helping establish the cornerstone of Oregon’s Modern art scene. As a painter and printmaker, Bunce had no singular style; rather, he used many major artistic movements like Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Postmodernism, fluidly exploring creative possibilities throughout his career.

In the 1970s he also experimented with minimal geometric compositions and Pop-related imagery. Toward the end of his life, Bunce created lush light-suffused seascapes. Within these stylistic shifts, Bunce’s artistic practice most often looked toward the landscape as a vehicle for Abstraction. We can see a reflection of nature, like the deep earthiness of the Oregon environment, in many of Louis Bunce canvases, regardless of style.

Allyn Cantor

 Wed, Feb 8, 2017