Provincetown Comes to Boston
Provincetown is terra incognita to me. I have visited this outpost of art and beach culture but twice in my life. Like Key West, it struck me as an almost foreign place, a gritty and sensual end of the road illuminated by the bright sun, the sparkle of the sea, and the glow of free spirits.
Provincetown, of course, has a long history as an art colony. Many of the most important artists associated with Provincetown and Cape Cod have been New Yorkers looking to escape the city — Edward Hopper, Hans Hofmann, Jack Tworkov.
Currently (through July 3), ACME Fine Art in Boston is featuring a group exhibition devoted to the artists who founded the Fine Arts Workshop Center in Provincetown. They are Tworkov, Robert Motherwell, Myron Stout, Jim Forsberg, Philip Malicoat, Fritz Bultman, Richard Florsheim, Romanos Rizk, and Salvatore Del Deo.
Of these, Tworkov, Motherwell, Bultman, and Stout are the best-known, being Abstract Expressionist painters of the New York School. Tworkov (1900-1982) was a widely respected painter of gestural abstractions. A Polish-born American, he tends to be overshadowed in the pantheon of Abstract Expressionists by the giants of movement, Jackson Pollock, Willem DeKooning, Mark Rothko, and Arshile Gorky. Motherwell (1915-1991) was one of the youngest of the New York School artists and one of the most elegant.
Myron Stout (1908-1987) had a noted career painting small, perfectly composed geometric abstractions. Fritz Bultman (1919-1985) was a student and disciple of Hans Hofmann, as was Jim Forsberg (1919-1991). Philip Malicoat (1908-1981) was a seascape painter. Richard Florsheim (1916-1979) was a Chicago artist best known as a printmaker. Romanos Rizk and Sal Del Deo, both living artists with established regional reputations, were students of Henry Hensche, like Hofmann and Charles Webster Hawthorne, a well-known Cape Cod art teacher.
What this disparate group of artists had in common was both the sandy arrondissement of Provincetown and a sense that this special place was becoming too expensive for young artists. The Fine Arts Work Center they help found provides October to May residencies for 20 emerging artists and writers, as well as summer workshops and a low-residency MFA program. A nice way to pay it forward.
As a side note, Jack Tworkov will be the subject of a major retrospective, Against Extremes: Five Decades of Painting this summer (July 9 to August 22) at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Organized in association with the artist’s estate, the Tworkov show promises to be a major highlight of the summer art season in New England.
“Many of Tworkov’s great masterpieces were inspired by the solace and solitude he found in Provincetown,” writes Jason Andrew, curator of the Tworkov estate. “The summers Tworkov spent in Provincetown were often the most productive and so it is exciting to see many of the artist’s most important works returning for exhibition at the Provincetown Association and Museum this summer.”
[ACME Fine Art, 38 Newbury St., 4th floor, Boston, MA, 617-585-9551]