Details, Details: Freedman & Motherwell

Caught one of the best shows we've seen at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum on Saturday. Actually it was several shows that worked together to show what a wide range of painting looked like in P-Town in the mid- to late-20th century, with separate room devoted to work from painters Paul Resika, Maurice Freedman, and Robert Motherwell. Another room displayed dozens of elegant portraits of historical P-Town "luminaries" by Ilona Royce Smithkin.

The biggest revelation for us was the high quality of the work by Freedman, someone we didn't know much about, but whose painterly works, especially the interiors, reminded us a bit of Matisse and Bonnard. The play of geometrics, color, figuration, draftsmanship, and vivid sense of place was engaging. Above is a studio scene, and just below here is a detail that shows his active brushwork and harmonization of strong color. Below that is a Motherwell detail. A fun part of his show was the inclusion of typewritten letters he (Motherwell) sent to curators. The crossed out words and handwritten additions elevate the letters to visual art in my view.* Have we actually lost something with the advent of our super-clean digital communications? Of course. But if we were still using typewriters I probably wouldn't write at all, so no Luddite kvetching here today.

* Basquiat's work included lots of crossed out words, which he said made people pay more attention to them.


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