James Spencer Russell and Other Artists of His Time

Over the past two and one half years of research, one thing that has been obvious to Satch and I is that no information readily exists regarding Jim’s relationship with other artists.  We have searched in vain for anything that Jim may have written about artists that he exhibited with and those that he surely knew.  Wade Bussert, Jim’s good friend, has told us that Jim never talked about other artists.  He kept that part of his life to himself and never bragged about who he had exhibited and socialized with.  The only exception was the Jim told Wade that he was friends with Leonard Bernstein and they would eat together at a New York City White Castle restaurant at all hours of the night.

In the group exhibition, Contemporary Boxes and Wall Sculpture (1965, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design) some of Jim’s fellow artists were Varujan Boghosian, Joseph Cornell, Roy Lichtenstein, Louise Nevelson, George Earl Ortman, Robert Rauschenberg, Hoosier born Hugh Townley and H.C. Westerman.

Jim’s studio in SoHo at 233 Lafayette Street was only one block away from the studio of Louise Nevelson.

In a group exhibition at Ruth White Gallery in New York City during October, 1964, Sculpture and Drawings, Jim was joined by (as noted on the gallery card) Henry Moore, Arp, Hepworth, Nevelson, Jagger, Margo, Dehner, Skaling and Gilioli.  (The gallery card from the exhibition is shown below.)

Just these few examples indicate that Jim was among the elite of the artists of the time and, certainly, Jim knew many of these artists, yet he left nothing about his view of their work or anything about any professional or personal relationships.

While this is more than maddening for our research, it does fit what we know about Jim – that we was an artist that never sought the spotlight, that once he dedicated his life to art, he lived to make his art and to experience art, theater and music.

(Note that links have been provided for the referenced artists if you wish to learn more about them and their work.)

Ruth White Group Show, 1964, Gallery Card

Ruth White Group Show, 1964, Gallery Card, Collection of Wade Bussert

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