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"Good News I" by Fritz Bultman

Good News I

On loan to the New Orleans Botanical Garden

Born in New Orleans in 1919, Fritz Bultman was a noted early Abstract Expressionist painter, who also created prolific works on paper and sculptures during his long careers. He studied in Munch under the noted abstractionist Hans Hoffman and later moved to New York, where he closely associated with the famed abstract expressionists of his time, including Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, William deKooning, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler. With these fellow New York School artists, known as the “Irascibles,” he boycotted the 1950 exhibition American Painting Now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art wherein they protested the museum’s conservative policies in an open letter to the New York Times. This group of artists was photographed for the cover of Life magazine, but Bultman was studying bronze casting in Italy and was not included in the iconic image, which is credited with propelling many of them to stratospheric fame.

Bultman was represented by the legendary Martha Jackson Gallery in New York beginning in 1959. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship, a Solomon Guggenheim fellowship and taught at Pratt Institute and Hunter College. At a time when Black Americans were prohibited from visiting white museums in the South, Bultman and his wife were instrumental in the creation of a collection of Modern Art for Tougaloo College, a black institution in Jackson, Mississippi. This native son of New Orleans lived in both New York and Provincetown, MA, on Cape Cod, where he died in 1985. Bultman’s artwork is included in major museum collections across the country, including the Phillips Collection, MoMA, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Good News I is one of the largest and, therefore, most rare sculptures ever created by Bultman. First exhibited in New York in 1963, Good News I won first prize in the Art Institute of Chicago’s 67th Annual American Exhibition in 1964. Art critic Sanford Friedman suggested that this sculpture depicts some type of rite of passage, perhaps even inviting the viewer to become an inadvertent participant in a ritual. Good News I asks many unanswered questions, which heightens the mystery and excitement surrounding this sculpture and what emotions and ideas it inspires in viewers.

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