Peter Busa studied at the Art Students League with Thomas Benton in the same class as Jackson Pollock, and in 1935 he began studies with Hans Hofmann both in New York and in Provincetown. In 1938-39, Busa made many visits to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian with his friends Steve Wheeler, Will Barnet, and Robert Barrell. In writing about artisans of these earlier cultures, Busa commented, "There was a genuine love for economy of forms and unfettered simplicity of direct statement… the structure of the space reflected by American Indian art was all-positive, without negative space. This was a unique idea compared to say, cubism, which dealt with positive and negative space. They elevated primitive art to the same level of accepted art. We did for American Indian art, you might say, what Picasso did for African art."
Peter Busa’s work is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.