Hartley | Hopper: Drawings from Two New England Collections at Bates Museum of Art

Organized by the Bates Museum of Art and Provincetown Art Association and Museum, On view at Bates College Museum of Art

This collaborative exhibition focuses on works selected from the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and Bates College Museum of Art. These institutions hold significant collections of drawings and sketches by two iconic American modernists, Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) and Edward Hopper (1882-1967). The exhibition includes over thirty works by each artist.

Hartley | Hopper: Drawings from Two New England Collections brings together two artists strongly associated with the state or region of the collecting institution. However, both artists are also linked to the other locale. Hartley is connected to Maine, his birthplace and, after a life of continuous travel, the state he returned to for the latter part of his life. Hartley only spent one summer in Provincetown, but it was so significant to him that for the rest of his life he referred to it as the “Great Provincetown Summer.” Hopper is connected to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, particularly the outer cape, the place he summered for over 35 years beginning in 1930. Hopper traveled to Maine, and also Gloucester, Massachusetts, often during the 15 summers prior to making Cape Cod his summer destination. 

Hartley and Hopper, who are both known primarily as painters, each created art stylistically quite different from one another. Hartley is recognized as one of the most important American modernists, one of the first to paint abstractly, and who later created expressive, symbolist landscapes and figurative paintings. Hopper is recognized as one of the most important American realists of the twentieth century, and is known for cropped–almost cinematic–compositions depicting everyday urban scenes often inhabited by lonely appearing figures. However, throughout their careers both made compelling drawings that were often born of working out compositions, or to explore subject, lighting, or other various details for paintings. Many of the Hartley and Hopper drawings on view are studies for paintings recognized as masterworks. 

This exhibition also includes a selection of objects from both museums’ archives, and a reading/study area with books and catalogues on each artist. The publications feature many illustrations of the paintings the drawings are related to, and essays by noted scholars. Visitors are invited to view the drawings and archival materials, and peruse the related publications.

The Provincetown Art Association and Museum Hopper collection consists of over 600 objects, including 97 drawings and sketches by Edward Hopper, 69 drawings and watercolors by his wife, Josephine Hopper, and archives including Josephine Hopper’s diaries, many letters, and other documents such as photographs, postcards, and correspondence. 

The Bates Museum of Art’s Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection consists of over 400 objects, including 103 drawings and sketches by the artist, several early oil sketches and one late painting, artmaking materials, photographs, personal effects and ephemera, and works by other artists in his possession, his library, and a small number of written works.

Image: Edward Hopper, Untitled, PAAM Collection, Gift of Laurence C. and J. Anton Schiffenhaus in honor of Mary Schiffenhaus and two anonymous donors, 2016