Known in the art world as a reclusive genius, Daniel Brush is an artist that transcends boundaries. In his career spanning four decades, Brush has been a painter, a sculptor, a jeweler and a maker of objets de vertu.
Brush’s work is rarely available at auctions. In the years between 1978 (when he began gaining success as a painter) to the present, he has only sold his works to maybe a dozen repeat collectors. He never creates on commission. He has followed the same routine everyday for three decades or more of rising at the same hour, sweeping his loft/studio on 24th street in Flatiron for two hours, then eating the same meal; this is all to set the mood and clear his mind so that he may begin his work for the day.
In 2006, Christie’s had three of his works on auction – the most there ever was anywhere up until that time. I went to the auction preview and have never forgotten the pieces since.
From Christie’s Oct 11, 2006 sale catalogue:
“Brush is a Prometheus, stealing lightning from the gods to make objects as miraculous as they are.” [Donald Kuspit, noted philosopher and art critic]
“Often described as innovative, enigmatic and extraordinary, Daniel Brush’s creations at once beckon admirers and defy easy explanation. Drawing from a breadth of worldly experience, introspective study and unparalleled technical virtuosity, his idiosyncratic oeuvre is often called the best-kept secret in the art world and has been collected by public, private and Royal collections.
Mesmerizing in their intricacy and daring in their fabrication, Brush’s work is often compared to the finest pieces of historical masters. He is a fiercely reclusive artist. Working alone, he transforms materials as diverse as bakelite, cold-rolled steel, pure gold and colored diamonds from the inert to the fluid, imbuing them with a timeless, yet personal sentiment. The range of work– from charming jeweled animals in pink bakelite to room-size contemplative steel and aluminum sculptures — leaves viewers humbled and mystified. Brush is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. His philosophy has been molded by ancient classical history, modern aerospace technology, and the spiritual culture of Japan. Brush creates art with uncharted abandon and energy, yet imparts his creations with delicacy and with intensity. Even his choice of materials, ranging from immutable steel to prehistoric mastodon ivory, is harnessed into a charged vision. His work is not for a passive audience.
In 1998, Brush was honored with a retrospective at the Smithsonian Institution, that, for the first time, gave the public an in depth look at this artist’s thirty years of work. “Daniel Brush: Gold without Boundaries”, a comprehensive monograph published by Harry N. Abrams concurrent with the opening of the exhibition, invites the reader to turn each page.
Just eight Daniel Brush creations have ever been sold at auction and all have been offered at Christie’s. The last piece, a hand-carved steel and pure gold contemplative ‘Orb’, was sold in New York in October 2000 for $127,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-65,000. With this auction, the public is afforded an exceedingly rare opportunity to have three Daniel Brush works offered for sale. In the past, the work’s appearance always created a sensation amongst collectors worldwide and there is no doubt that these three pieces will continue that tradition.”
Don’t miss Daniel Brush’s exhibition at the Museum of Art & Design in New York. The show will end this Sunday Feb 17th.