Leo Manso: Collages and Other Works


Leo Manso (1914-1993) was a significant artist and educator in both New York and Provincetown art circles and helped to foster Provincetown’s reputation as a major art colony. He was the primary force in organizing two important cooperative galleries in Provincetown: the 256 Gallery (1951-1957) and Long Point Gallery (1976-1998), the longest-lived and most influential artist-run gallery in Provincetown’s rich history. Manso and the painter Victor Candell established the Provincetown Workshop (1958-1976), which became what the artist historian Dorothy Gees Seckler described in a 1965 interview for the Archives of American Art as “easily recognized as the most important school at this time” in Provincetown.

– From the essay “Leo Manso” by Mary Ellen Abell

Watch a Fredi Schiff Levin Lecture with Dr. Abell on our YouTube channel. Learn more about the series here.


“I grew up in a small-town, an ethnic enclave in Western Pennsylvania. My immigrant family worked in the steel mills, exchanging serfdom under the Hapsburg Dynasty in Eastern Europe for the serfdom of capitalism- my grandfather would always chuckle with irony. A friend and I played hooky from school one day, and drove down near the West Virginia border looking for white-water rapids, suitable for rafting. We got lost and came across the Fallingwater Estate by Frank Lloyd Wright. The waterfall was roaring. The cantilevers, the proportions were nothing like I had ever seen before in my working-class upbringing. I went into a trance, literally, non-verbal and kind of rapturous, at the site of this architectural wonder. As a conflicted adolescent, I kept returning to the site whenever I could, alone, immediately transcend, successfully duplicating the first experience I had there– architecture as rapture. It was so new and explosive, to a young man like me, nothing like the high school rote classroom experience at all. I have since traveled the world extensively, looking to capture that rapture again. And I successfully did it. Again and again. At Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the temples on the Plains of Bagan in Burma, the huge medieval Chola temples in South India, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Palladian villas along the Brenta Canal near Vicenza in Italy.

That meditative trance-like state of mind, that lets nothing else in, not even the tiniest distraction, overtook me when I had all of Leo Manso’s work, face-up for selection to this exhibition in a storage room on Cape Cod, and I went into a poetic spin at the sight of it all. My mind was reeling, non-verbal and profoundly in awe, of the beauty of it all. Later, I tried to imagine the rapture Leo must have felt while working on some of these pieces, and even when not working on these pieces. Leo started schools, galleries, collectives with other artists; his life was all about art. He would go to Italy or India and pull out of the ether the essence of their atmosphere, their vibe, their visuals, and their art.

I want to welcome you, the audience, to this show, and sincerely hope that some or all of the rapture is transferred to you as you view the work of the genius of Leo Manso.

— Gene Fedorko, New York City and Provincetown

Image: Leo Manso, Encyclical, (det) collage, 39″ x 32″, Provincetown Art Association and Museum Permanent Collection.