The Tides of Provincetown focuses on Provincetown’s legacy as an art colony (in 1916, the Boston Globe declared it the “Biggest Art Colony in the World”) and covers over 100 artists and as many artworks, from Charles W. Hawthorne’s founding of the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899—and, thereby, the colony itself— to the present day. This is the largest and most comprehensive examination of the art colony ever completed as the last Provincetown survey (exhibited over 40 years ago) ended with artwork from the 1970s.
The exhibition is divided into eight sections that focus on various key years and events in the art colony and highlight Provincetown’s importance in America’s art history.
1899 Charles W. Hawthorne founding of the Cape Cod School of Art
1914-27 The Provincetown Art Association and the “Modernist Split”
1927-31 Modernist breakthroughs, featuring Blanche Lazzell, Ross Moffett, and the “Early Moderns”
1935-66 Hans Hofmann establishes his school and inspires generations of students
1950s Academic and Impressionist trends during the rise of Abstract Expressionism
1958-74 The Tirca Karlis Gallery brings “big name” artists to Provincetown
1968-98 Artists take action to restore the colony to its former glory
1999-2011 The Provincetown art colony today
Artists have been selected based on their contribution to the Provincetown art colony, as well as their influence beyond Cape Cod. With its focus on the key moments in Provincetown’s history, the exhibition highlights artists who played a pivotal role in the colony and were the important figures and artistic forces. Furthermore, their presence in Provincetown as well as their influence on other artists through schools, mentorships, and/or pure aesthetic power of their artwork is examined.
While many of the artists worked or lived in Provincetown for years— such as Milton Avery, Charles W. Hawthorne, Henry Hensche, Hans Hofmann, Blanche Lazzell, Robert Motherwell, and E. Ambrose Webster—others “passed through” the art colony. The exhibition will show that many of the great artists of the 20th century—including Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Charles Demuth, Red Grooms, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol— were inspired by Provincetown, even if they were only there for a short period of time.
Paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs have been loaned from a variety of national museums as well as from Provincetown galleries and private collections on Cape Cod and across the country.
A fully illustrated, 176- page catalogue has been produced in conjunction with this exhibition. As with the exhibition, the catalogue is divided into eight sections that focus on the development of the art colony from 1899 to the present day. Eleven contributors include Cape Cod Museum of Art Executive Director Elizabeth Ives Hunter, other well known Cape Cod art authorities, national experts on the featured artists, and major art historians of the Provincetown art colony.
The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America’s Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899-2011) is presented with the generous support of the Ellen and Richard Cuda Foundation of the Cape Cod Foundation.
The Cape Cod Museum of Art is the regional art museum for the Cape and Islands, making it a fitting exhibitor for this homegrown collection. Several related programs will further showcase Provincetown’s profound impact on the art world over the past century.