Rediscovering David Budd: The Forgotten Abstract Expressionist

Opens April 4th at Icehouse Artspace in Sarasota. Exhibition is the Most Complete David Budd Retrospective Ever Shown

SARASOTA, FL, April 1, 2014: Rediscovering David Budd: The Forgotten Abstract Expressionist, chronologically examines the highly acclaimed yet, under appreciated, 40-year career of artist David Budd. Running from April 5-13th, this retrospective includes many oil-on-canvas works – large-scale, highly detailed, monochromatic pieces of magnificent art - that comprise a significant portion of Budd’s lifework from 1948 through 1988. This is the most complete David Budd retrospective ever shown.Although the artists he associated with were a decade or more older than he, Budd found acceptance and companionship from Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell when he moved to New York City in 1954. They spent many nights together sitting in the Cedar Street Tavern drinking, conversing and arguing about art. As artists often do, Budd learned from the group. Years later in 2003, curator Mark Ormond for the Tampa Museum of Art wrote “Budd’s first paintings in 1954 were influenced by his new friend, Jackson Pollock. He painted on masonite with powerful gestures that took paint beyond the panel’s edge.”An in-depth look at Budd’s career as an artist in the context of his times, demonstrates that he was very much a part of the dramatic rise of the American abstract painting movement after World War II. His willingness to continue the path of exploration and experimentation through his breathtaking last series of works, The Silver System, confirms his seat along side of America’s most creative abstract expressionist artists.

“This is our first step toward bringing the art of David Budd into the light, to public view and, hopefully, to the attention and acclaim we believe it richly deserves,” stated Kevin Dean, curator of the show and Director of Selby Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design. “This exhibition will provide collectors and museum curators a rare opportunity – in many cases their first chance – to see Budd’s career unfold in a large exhibition space, to see the work up close, on the walls of a gallery, the way it was meant to be displayed” he concluded.

Dean noted that 50% of the proceeds from the sale of the art works during the exhibition would benefit the Ringling College of Art and Design Scholarship Endowment Fund.

A Distinguished Career
Budd’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art (now National Gallery of Art) and the Jewish Museum in New York. He also exhibited in Houston, San Francisco, Washington, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Japan.

He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Peggy Guggenheim Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. His work was written about in newspapers and major art magazines including the New York Times, Art News and Art Forum. Arguably, David Budd is the most accomplished visual artist in the long history of Ringling College.

With acclaimed works, prestigious awards, and gallery and museum showings worldwide, the question arises – why is the name David Budd not better known today?

The Budd Journey
In 1954, though he had been painting for only six years, Budd dropped into the center of the modern art world. His ambition to become a painter of significance led him to New York City. There he met and often fraternized with Pollack, de Kooning, Kline and Motherwell. During that period, his paintings, mostly large-scale horizontal canvases covered with thousands of small, thick strokes of paint were considered radical for that time. Usually monochromatic, with black or dark blue being his favorite shades, these strongly tactile surfaces combined aspects of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism while also being indirectly naturalistic.

In 1958, Budd had his first of two shows at Betty Parsons Gallery before moving to Paris in 1960. Then it happened. With the support of Gallery Stadler, Budd spent most of the next decade in the “City of Lights.” It was a bittersweet time because though Budd thrived in Europe with numerous exhibitions – both solo and group shows – in prestigious galleries and major museums, he became forgotten and overlooked in his own country. While in Europe, Budd missed the peak of artist celebrity that Pollack & de Kooning enjoyed back in the United States.

During his time in France, his work changed from being highly textured to his version of Post-Painterly Abstraction until he returned to the United States at the end of the decade and began to again use thick paint applied with a palette knife. The new paintings were monochromatic or limited to two colors, often black and dark brown. In 1980, he began a series of monochromatic paintings in which he squeezed white paint on the surface of the canvas and then pushed, smeared, and scraped the pigment into low reliefs that were then stained a single color. Budd called the series Journey Without Maps, a veiled reference from Shakespeare to his life threatening medical problems. That work produced until he stopped painting in 1988 demonstrates his desire to keep experimenting.

Budd’s continued contributions to art were recognized by the national Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation late in his career. Those grants helped him finish the artist’s last series The Silver System. He died in Sarasota on October 9, 1991.