EXHIBITION: Provincetown, MA Art Museum
A Chain of Events
Modernist Architecture on the Outer Cape:
Marcel Breuer to Charles Jencks
From August 18 through October 15
Outer Cape Cod has long been acknowledged as a nexus of modern art, literature and theatre. Less is known about its standing as a hotbed of architectural experimentation. This exhibition constitutes the first in depth examination of this unique body of work.
Beginning in the mid 1940s, the quiet pine woods on the Truro- Wellfleet line were being transformed by the initiatives of Jack Phillips.He had inherited a huge swath of ocean side woodland and in an intentional move, sought out a who’s who of modernist architects to buy land and build summer cottages.
In 1945, Marcel Breuer designed a cottage that would serve as a prototype for two houses he built in Wellfleet as well as a planned but unrealized community in the surrounding woods. The same year Serge Chermayeff bought a nearby cabin which he slowly expanded into a family compound. This included an experimental studio building of which he did variations on for two neighboring families. In the immediate vicinity Olav Hammerstrom designed a home for Eero Saarinen’s family and one for himself. Engineer Paul Weidlinger, a friend and collaborator of Breuer and Gropius, built his home on an adjoining pond.
Simultaneously, prominent Boston architects Saltonstall and Morton built ‘the colony’, in Wellfleet, a cluster of destijl inspired cottages. In Provincetown, the famous minimalist Tony Smith was building a painting studio for his friend and fellow Chicago Bauhaus student, Fritz Bultman. Throuout the 50s and 60s all of these architects, as well as local modernists Hayden Walling, Jack Hall and Phillips himself, built a significant body of work. In 1966 architect Paul Krueger designed a house in Truro inspired by his recent work overseeing construction of Le Corbusiers’ Carpenter Center at Harvard.
By the 70’s Charles Zehnder had designed over twenty homes between Provincetown and Wellfleet.
In 1984, Carmi Bee built his Truro home, an homage to John Hejduk, with whom he had worked at Cooper Union. In 1976, as a response to this chain of events, architect/critic Charles Jencks built his studio, a Post-Modern polemic just a short walk from the original Breuer house.
The exhibition will include original and current photography, models, drawings and other related artwork celebrating and recognizing these architectural riches. A color catalogue will accompany the show with an essay by Harvard architectural historian K. Michael Hays, adjunct curator of architecture at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
A series of lectures, gallery talks and a house tour will coincide with the exhibition. The show is curated by Bob Bailey, artist and director of artSTRAND, an experimental gallery in Provincetown and Peter McMahon, principal of PM Design in South Wellfleet.
460 Commercial Street
Provincetown, MA 02657