Louis Bunce: Dialogue with Modernism

On January 20th, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (in the Paulus Lecture Hall) art historian/curator Roger Hull will give a slide talk about the work of the Portland Painter Louis Bunce (1907-1983) as the show opens its two month run at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem.  Available on that occasion (and afterward) will be copies of Hull’s book on Bunce (also titled “Louis Bunce: Dialogue with Modernism”).

The show and book have been in the works over at our house for the last three years, and we have come to know Louis Bunce pretty well.  We’ve driven by his former homes in Portland, we’ve gone to read his archival material in Washington D.C. at the Archives of American Art, we’ve visited many of the collectors who own his work, we’ve talked to former friends, students, colleagues, relatives…now when I say “we” of course, it is Roger Hull who has looked and thought and talked and written, while I have been lucky enough to tag along on some of these adventures.  I’ve come to know that the work is beautiful, varied, thoughtful.  But knowing that, looking at hundreds of images, is NOT the same as being in the same room with the paintings.

This past week the show that Roger Hull has carefully curated has been going up over at the Museum and Friday I got a sneak preview.  Come take a look:


Because Roger Hull is an art historian and a writer, and because his shows are usually whole-career retrospectives, the work is in chronological order which develops the narrative as well as letting the viewer see the artist’s progress.  The show begins with Bunce’s self-portrait from 1932 and some text and moves to the first room with other paintings from the early 1930’s.



Louis Bunce loved the Oregon landscape, most especially the Oregon Coast, and thematically, coastal painting figures all through his work, even into the most abstract paintings.  He traveled the state, he summered in Mosier, he lived in Salem.  His work is deeply Oregonian.


and on we go.  I won’t give you details here…you need to come see the show and the paintings loaned by the Whitney Museum in NYC and the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio as well as loans of beautiful work from collectors all over the west coast








and these three courtesy of the Portland Art Museum…



Here’s George Johanson’s portrait of Louis Bunce from 1975…Johanson was a student of Bunce’s, a friend and later a teaching colleague at the Museum School…


Look forward to seeing you the 20th…



  1. I am looking forward to this so much! To hear my most favorite art expert lecture on the beautiful show he has curated about an artist of whom I know too little: what a treat!

  2. I look forward to seeing this show and hearing the lecture. I came across your blog while researching the Bunce print I bought last year and have enjoyed the behind the scenes story. Hope to meet you as well! Kathy Heintz

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