The present post features a Bongart painting that captured my interest at this exhibit at Seattle's Frye Museum. The exhibit showed a few examples of art acquired for the museum by each its various directors over the years since its establishment in the early 1950s to supplement the founding collection of Charles and Emma Frye. Many examples from the founding collection are always on display in accordance with the Fryes' wishes. The more recent acquisitions are less often seen, and I had never laid eyes on that Bongart.
The subject of Bongart's portrait is Walser Sly Greathouse who was executor of the Frye estate and when the museum they wished to establish was opened in 1952, Greathouse was its directer, a position he held until his death in 1966. The Bongart painting does not have a precise date, being classified as "circa 1966." So it likely was posthumous with regard to Greathouse. On the other hand, Bongart and the Frye were on very good terms, and 21 of his paintings have entered its collection since 1961. Five of these were acquired before Greathouse died, so Bongart knew him and didn't just create the portrait from photos and nothing else.
The Greathouse portrait by Bongart was acquired in 1967 in part using funds from friends of Greathouse, so it probably can be regarded as a commissioned work. It was painted on masonite using acrylic paints.
What caught my interest was the contrast between the sketchy, colorful setting and the subdued, traditionally painted face that, despite all the Bongart pyrotechnics, is the strong focus of the work.