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Patrick Henry Bruce

Born: 1881, Campbell County, Virginia, United States of America
Died: 1936, New York, New York, United States of America

Peinture
1917–18

Oil and graphite on canvas
Image: 25 5/8 x 32 1/8in. (65.1 x 81.6cm)
Frame: 32 7/16 x 38 15/16 x 2 15/16in. (82.4 x 98.9 x 7.5cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.21
Signed: Inscribed upside down on verso: Ceci est un/Patrik (sic) Bruce/H P Roché
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

Peinture is the first in a series of still-life paintings, all entitled in French Peinture (“Painting”) or Nature morte (“Still Life”), in which Patrick Henry Bruce worked obsessively at the boundary between representation and abstraction. Set against and intersecting with four broad, horizontal bands of black, turquoise, and lavender are a series of pencil-outlined geometric shapes of unmodulated color that insistently resolve themselves into suggestions of three-dimensional prismatic forms. Only a straw, a glass, a ruler, and a board, book, or canvas (in yellow) can be tentatively identified; other forms appear only as idiosyncratic objects, like a child’s building blocks or fragments of furniture. Indeed, the twice-repeated S-curve may refer to the antique Spanish table in the artist’s studio, where he worked from various arrangements of everyday and exotic objects in addition to food items such as cheese and fresh fruit.

Bruce’s long-standing attraction to the still life, which accounts for most of his artistic output over the course of his career, reflects the towering influence of his artistic mentors, French painters Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) and Henri Matisse (1869–1854). The evolution of Bruce’s still lifes from painterly evocations of Cézanne’s floral images to the precisely geometric works of the 1917–1918 series reflects his journey toward “pure painting.” His abstraction was rooted in everyday subject matter; even his seemingly purely abstract works, the six Compositions of 1916, make reference to Parisian dance halls in their dynamic energy and prismatic color. The still life, with its static immobility and invitation to the artist to take complete control over subject and organization, provided a base for Bruce’s experiments in composition based on such purely formal means as architectonic structure and color juxtaposition on the flat surface of the canvas. Peinture asserts a vacuum of emotion, atmosphere and gravity, toying provocatively with the viewer’s perception of weighted objects in three-dimensional space.

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Provenance

The artist
Henri-Pierre Roche, Paris, France, 1933
Rose Fried Gallery, New York, New York
Charles Simon, New York, c. 1949–50
Peter H. Davidson & Company, Inc., New York
Mr. and Mrs. Rolf Weinberg, Zurich, Switzerland, 1978
Daniel J. Terra Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1986
Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1999

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Exhibition History

Three American Pioneers of Abstract Art: Morgan Russell, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Patrick Henry Bruce, Rose Fried Gallery, New York, New York (organizer). Venue: Rose Fried Gallery, New York, New York, November 20–December 30, 1950. [exh. cat.]

Twentieth-Century American Art from Friends' Collections, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York (organizer). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, July 27–September 27, 1977. [exh. cat.]

Patrick Henry Bruce-American Modernist, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (organizer). Venues: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, May 31–June 29, 1979; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, August 22–October 21, 1979; Virginia Museum, Richmond, Virginia, November 26, 1979–January 6, 1980. [exh. cat.]

'Rot konstruiert' und 'Super Table:' Eine Schweizer Sammlung moderner Kunst, Kunstmuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland (organizer). Venue: Kunstmuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland, March 2–April 13, 1980. [exh. cat.]

A Proud Heritage: Two Centuries of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 21–June 21, 1987. [exh. cat.]

American Painters in France, 1830-1930, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, June 14–September 3, 1989. [exh. cat.]

Collection Cameo, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 1993.

Selected Works from the Collections: Two Hundred Years of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 12–August 27, 1997.

Figures and Forms: Selections from the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 9–July 9, 2000.

L'Amérique et les modernes, 1900–1950 (American Moderns, 1900–1950), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, July 25–October 31, 2000. [exh. cat.]

Selections from the Permanent Collection: Two Centuries of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, March 10–July 1, 2001.

Selections from the Permanent Collection: American Moderns, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, July 14–October 7, 2001.

D'une colonie à une collection: le Musée d'Art Américain Giverny fête ses dix ans (From a Colony to a Collection: Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, March 30–June 16, 2002.

A Place on the Avenue: Terra Museum of American Art Celebrates 15 Years in Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 16, 2002–February 16, 2003 (on exhibit extended run: November 2, 2002–March 2, 2003).

Paris, capitale de l'Amérique: l'avant-garde américaine à Paris (A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918–1939), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venues: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, August 31–November 30, 2003; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, December 18, 2003–March 2004; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 17–June 27, 2004. [exh. cat.]

Expanded Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, April 15, 2005–September 2007.

Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, June 2008–June 2010.

Paths to Abstraction 1867–1917, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (organizer). Venue: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, June 25–September 19, 2010. [exh. cat.].

Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, October 2012-February 2017.

Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, June 2017–present.

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Published References

Twentieth-Century American Art from Friends' Collections. (exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art). New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1977. No. 10.

Agee, William C. and Barbara Rose. Patrick Henry Bruce, American Modernist. (exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). Houston, Texas: The Museum of Fine Arts, 1979. Ill. p. 29 (color).

Agee, William C. and Barbara Rose. Patrick Henry Bruce, American Modernist-A Catalog Raisonné. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1979. Text pp. 28–29, 33; Ill. D1, p. 193 (black & white).

Staber, Margit and Dr. Rudolf Koella. ''Rot konstruiert" und "Super Table:" Eine Schweizer Sammlung moderner Kunst. (exh. cat., Kunstmuseum). Winterthur, Switzerland: Kunstmuseum, Winterthur, 1980. Text p. 82; ill. p. 83 (color).

Artner, Alan G. “Pletos Pieces Together an Innocent Vision.” The Chicago Tribune (July 11, 1986). Accessed February 21, 2017. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-07-11/entertainment/8602190613_1_art-notes-brenda-richardson-snakes

Atkinson, D. Scott et al. A Proud Heritage: Two Centuries of American Art. Edited by Terry A. Neff. (exh. cat., Terra Museum of American Art). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1987. Text p. 272; pl. T-163, p. 272 (color).

Shelby, Carole. American Painters in France 1830–1930. (exh. cat., Terra Museum of American Art). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1989. Text cat.no. 5 (checklist).

Gerdts, William H. et al. Lasting Impressions: American Painters in France, 1865–1915. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1992. Text pp. 105–106; fig. 105, p. 106 (black & white).

Gerdts, William H. et al. Impressions de toujours: les peintres américains en France, 1865–1915. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1992. Text pp. 105–106; fig. 105, p. 106 (black & white).

The Journal of the American Medical Association 3 (March 1993): cover. Ill. cover (color).

Peinture (Painting) , Patrick Henry Bruce. Collection Cameo sheet, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, April 1993. Ill. (black & white)

The Journal of the American Medical Association Pakistan 6, no. 4 (June 1994): cover. Ill. cover (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. and Paul J. Karlstrom. American Moderns, 1900–1950. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2000. Ill. cover (color), pl. 6, p. 33 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. and Paul J. Karlstrom. L'Amérique et les modernes, 1900–1950. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2000. Ill. cover (color), pl. 6, p. 33 (color).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. An American Point of View: The Daniel J. Terra Collection. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 170, 192; ill. pp. 13 (color), 171 (color), 192 (black & white).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. Un regard transatlantique. La collection d'art américain de Daniel J. Terra. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 170, 192; ill. pp. 13 (color), 171 (color), 192 (black & white).

Kennedy, Elizabeth. "The Terra Museum of American Art." American Art Review (December 2002): 126–41. Text p. 132.

Derouet, Christian et al. Paris, capitale de l'Amérique: l'avant-garde américaine à Paris, 1918–1939. Edited by Sophie Lévy. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2003. Text pp. 31–32; cat. 1, p. 25 (color).

Derouet, Christian et al. A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918–1939. Edited by Sophie Lévy. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2003. Text pp. 31–32; cat. 1, p. 25 (color).

Davidson, Susan, ed. Art in the USA: 300 años de innovación. (exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum Bilbao). New York, NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2007. (Spanish version). Ill. p. 152 (color).

Maloon, Terence, ed. Paths to Abstraction 1867–1917. (exh. cat., Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia). Sydney, Australia: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2010. Ill. p. 272 (color).

Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA III: Covers and Essays from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, Illinois: American Medical Association, 2011. Text pp. 128, 209; ill. opposite p. 128 (color).

Marter, Joan M. The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2011. Text p. 350; ill. p. 350.

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