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Peter Busa (1914-1985)

Peter Busa was born June 23, 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Busa was known as an Indian Space Painter, a style developed from surrealist ideas combined with Native American tribal motifs and forms. Busa began his formal training in the arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. He relocated to New York in 1933, where he studied at the Art Students League and befriended noted artists Jackson Pollock, Thomas Hart Benton, Stuart Davis, and Roberto Matta.

Busa’s friendships with surrealist and other avant-gaurde painters inspired his own artistic development. On completion of his participating in the Federal Arts Projects under the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s, Busa began to pursue various surrealist and looser abstract expressionist styles. His earlier works consisted mostly of automatic drawings,


and over the course of his career evolved to include geometric abstractions, representational subjects, and flatforms. The Indian Space Painting practice gained attention and popularity following the surrealist movement and is considered the precursor to the development of Abstract Expressionism.

Busa also taught throughout his career at various universities including Buffalo State, the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, New York University, University at Buffalo and University of Minnesota, where he remained until 1982. His works are in the collections of Smithsonian Institute, Guggenheim Museum, Smith College Art Gallery, the Walker Art Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Peter Busa died in 1985.