Published: June 26, 2012
Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) is presenting an exhibition of work by Robert Motherwell July 20-September 30. “Robert Motherwell: Beside the Sea,” curated by Lise Motherwell and Dan Ranalli, will present rare work created by the artist in his Provincetown studio during the summer of 1942. There will be a free opening reception on Friday, July 20, from 8 to 10 pm.
The year 2012 is a milestone as it marks the 70th anniversary of the artist’s first visit to Provincetown and the 50th anniversary of the creation of his “Beside the Sea” series, based on his experiences living in the small outer Cape Cod town. This is the first major exhibition of Motherwell’s work on Cape Cod and provides a never-before-seen look at many pieces held in private collections.
The art of Robert Motherwell has national and international significance, and is included in the collections of numerous national and international institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musee National d art Moderne in Paris; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., the Tate Modern in London, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art and numerous private collections.
Critic John Yau writes in his essay “Beside The Sea: Robert Motherwell in Provincetown” how Motherwell drew direct inspiration for this series from what he observed from his seaside studio on Commercial Street. To illustrate, he points to a conversation Motherwell had with art historian H.H. Arnason:
“For years my summer studio has been directly on the bay in Provincetown on Cape Cod. There is a 900-foot tidal flat, and, just as one can play ball games at low tide, at high tide the sea in a high wind breaks against the bulkhead in violent spray. In the ‘Beside the Sea’ series, I made the painted spray with such physical force that the strong rag paper split, and it was only when I found rag paper laminated with glue in five layers that the surface could take the full force of my shoulder, arm, hand and brush without splitting. One might say that the true way to ‘imitate’ nature is to employ its own processes.”
PAAM will offering several public programs to accompany this exhibition, with lectures by Jack Flam, president of the Dedalus Foundation, which was founded by Robert Motherwell in 1981; John Yau, art critic and author; and Catherine Mosley, artist and Motherwell’s master printmaker from 1978 to 1991.
Exhibiting concurrently with the Motherwell show is “Long Point: An Artists’ Place,” curated by Mary E. Abell and featuring the work of numerous artists from the co-op gallery, including Motherwell himself who was one of the founders in 1977.
PAAM is at 460 Commercial Street. For information, 508-487-1750 or www.paam.org .
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