Edwin Dickinson’s forgotten gothic melodrama

“Edwin Dickinson: The Provincetown Years, 1912-1937,” Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA. Through September 23.

In the Boston Globe, Ken Johnson reports: “Unlike those artists generally counted in the first ranks of American painters in the pre-Abstract Expressionist era, Dickinson did not forge a single, formally pared-down modern style. Rather, he worked in two distinct modes. He produced the large narrative paintings like ‘An Anniversary’ that sometimes took years to finish and that seem to belong as much to the 19th as to the 20th century. And, working quickly in single sessions, he made landscape and maritime paintings that have a fresh, airy, modern feeling.Continued….The artist never pulled together the two sides of his creative nature — the slow and the fast, the complex and the simple, the visionary and the perceptual. The split persisted throughout his post-Provincetown career, during which he divided his time between homes in Wellfleet and New York. Had he found a way to integrate the two sides, would we remember him today as one of the greats of 20th-century American art? Perhaps. But maybe it’s just as well that he remain a semi-secret treasure. That way, each new generation of art lovers can wonder upon rediscovering him, ‘How come we never heard of this guy?'” Read more.

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