Philip Malicoat: Large Works

Philip Malicoat was part of a large family of Provincetown artists spanning multiple generations dating back to the early 1900s.

Considered the family’s patriarch, Philip Cecil Malicoat was a child of farmers with little exposure to the arts, first in Oklahoma, then in Indiana, before coming to Provincetown in 1929 to study with Charles Hawthorne. Malicoat went on to build a life in Provincetown, meeting his wife, the artist Barbara Haven Brown, and together raising two children, Martha and Conrad, both of whom became accomplished artists. Malicoat was active in Provincetown arts community as a member of the Provincetown Art Association and Beachcomber’s Club, a teacher, a painter, and, in 1968, a co-founder of the Fine Arts Work Center.

Maura Coughlin writes in her essay Immersed in Half-Light, which will be featured in the forth-coming exhibition catalogue:

“Philip Malicoat painted and played the cello in his studio on Bradford Street, but he often spent his mornings and evenings immersed in the visual and symphonic drama of the shoreline and in the dunes, at the dune shack he built on the strip of land that ran from his home to the back shore.

He told one interviewer that in the 1930s, Provincetown had been a place for him to “get out of the way of the rush of civilization” (1964). Malicoat’s landscape paintings, like those of his good friend Edwin Dickinson, offer sensory encounters: in the nacreous grays of Provincetown’s silvery mists, and dense, wet fogs we experience the temperature, breeze and humidity of the place. The severe blankness and obscurity of the back shore — whether stormy or still — speaks of somatic absorption, of walking and inhabiting the shoreline and knowing it viscerally.

Unlike his generally smaller landscapes, Malicoat’s large figure paintings have remained in his family and are likely a surprising discovery for the many viewers of this exhibition. The enigmatic narratives of these studio paintings plumb the potential of still life and figural assemblages to convey symbolic gravity or allegory, and they take various approaches to the personhood of represented figures.”


Image: Philip C. Malicoat (1908-1981), detail of Chess Players, 1937, Private Collection.