The Armory Show of 1913:
Oliver Chaffee has a direct link to this exhibition with his fauvist salute to the pine tree. This is one of the three Chaffee pieces that hung at the original show. (We had two but one was acquired by a Midwest museum).
Shortly after wedding in NYC and their infiltration of the new Post-Impressionistic galleries popping up around Manhattan, both Marguerite and William were chosen to show at the Armory. It was evident that Peggy was on to something when she illicted this reaction from an uptight New York art critic, "The pale yellow eyes and the purple lips of her subect indicate that the digestive organs are not functioning properly. I would advise salicylate of quinine in small doses."
Abraham Walkotitz is today remembered for his Isadora Duncan fetish, impusively sketching moments of the modern dancer and her troupe. He would create a series of watercolors during his 1917, visit to Provincetown and a series of etching a couple of years later.
Featured is the Provincetown art teacher E. Ambrose Webster, fauvist work, The Cliffs.
Available here soonly: Maurice Sterne, Evelyn Rumsey Lord, Max Weber & others.
From the actual show, this classic fauvist masterpiece was one of three works of Chaffee's to hang in New York. It is an surrealistic homage to the symbol of the show, the pine tree, which was lifted from the Massachusetts Revolutionary War militia flag that fought Great Britain in the seventeen-seventies. The Armory Show of 1913 was itself a revolutionary act.
Another classic fauvist piece inspired by the French village where Oliver and Ada Gilmore reunited in the the nineteen-twenties after the time spent in Provincetown a decade earlier when they were both part of the Printmakers movement. They eventually wed and remained true to the vow "'til death do us part."
This Chaffee work comes from the collection of Lester Heller, the patriarch of the Heller dynasty.
Oliver's skill set bled beyond his masterful use of oils and block prints for he was also an expert watercolorist. The meticulous bush work of this portrait of his wife, Ada, showcases his adroit use of the watercolor medium. This style was also predominant in Ada's work, a great artist in her own right. The couple inspired each other the point that some of their work is indistinguisable as to who was the original source.
From the collection of the William Holley Family. Mr. Holley, according to Peggy Zorach, was a "creative, thoughtful, receptive, generous and sophisticated man beloved by the Zorach family," who worked in many capacities for Marguerite and William at Robinhood Farm in Georgetown, Maine. According to the members of the Holley family, this painting was a Christmas gift to Mr. Holley. Much of Marguerite's artwork is quite rare due to the fact that she destroyed much of it. After world travels and before leaving her native California in 1912, she, "carted off amid protests all the old trash." Letter to William 1912.
She attended the post-impressionist school La Palette in France where she met William Zorach and associated with Pablo Picasso and ex-patriate Gertrude Stein. Marquerite was a tour-de-force in several mediums, incorporating worsted embroidery, and hooking, block printing and painting into her repertoire of art. "Mrs. Zorach is evidently in sympathy with her husband's artistic point of view, but her themes are developed according to feminine formulae." - American Art News - 1919
He virtually created a monumental collection of Isadora's dance. His greatest pleasure is to distribute to all and sundry entire collection from the thousands of sketches which he has gathered of Duncan's dances.
From his wanderings he used to bring nostalgic idyls. From his homeland sprung his poetic creations, full of longings and dreams. Walkowitz would also be responsible for introducing the Zorachs to influential New York patrons and critics.
"I saw him painting on the roadside one day for the benefit of his class, and his method is certainly strenuous. He stood up in front of the easel and canvas and gave me the impression of a man fencing. He would crouch and parry and thrust at the canvas with all of the nervous and physical intensisty of a fencer." - A.J. Philpott - Boston Sunday Globe. 1916.
The Zorachs arrived in Provincetown in 1916 to teach at the Modern Art School. With no students they spent the historic summer creating scenery for the Provincetown Playhouse, painting, and experimenting in wood block prints (featured in our Block Party Exhibit.) This is the first of two Provincetown Beach scenes in watercolor. The Zorachs called Provincetown home for the 1916, 1921, 1922 and 1923 summers.
The Zorachs would hold court with Eugene O'Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Abraham Walkowitz, Hutchins Hapgood, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth in Provincetown in the summer of 1916.
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