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 Peter Busa (1914-1985)


Peter Busa was born in 1914, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He studied architecture and art at Carnrgie Institute of Technology.  He moved to New York and began studying under Thomas Hart Benton at the Arts Students League in a class that included Jackson Pollock.  In 1935 he began studies with Hans Hofmann both in New York and in Provincetown.


Busa’s friendships with Stuart Davis and Arshile Gorky had a profound influence on his art … both artists shifted his focus from the eastern tradition and opened his eyes to new ideas about authenticity in art.  Due to his many visits to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian in 1938-39, Busa became particularly fascinated with Native American art and culture and emerged as a leading member of the group of abstract artists known as the Indian Space Painters who were active in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  “Indian Space” describes a brightly colored pictorial language of flat, all-over patterns, combining geometric and organic forms.


In 1946 Busa showed work at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, Art of the Century.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Busa explored other forms of abstraction, but he revisited Indian Space ideas in the 1980’s.  From 1961 - 1982 he taught at the University of Minnesota.  


He died in Minneapolis in 1985.             

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