Artist Biography: Lillian Orlowsky

Lillian Orlowsky
(1914- 2004)

The artist’s statement:

I was fortunate to have taken part in one of the most important periods in art in the twentieth century. The 1930s through the 1950s saw a cultural upheaval where diverse concepts in painting went from one extreme to another: from realism to abstraction. In the forefront were the WPA Art Project, and in some measure, the Provincetown Art Association. They promoted cultural awareness of the different pictorial concepts, which were the beginning of the changing scene of plastic expression.

The WPA was a great innovative idea that gave me and other artists the opportunity to concentrate on our work. It was unique in the history of American art and responsible for many murals and easel paintings, which became government property. The artists received a weekly salary plus artist’s materials. We would gather to pick up our checks at 110 King Street in Manhattan. Since there was always a long wait, we had time to talk about the current art scene. It was there that I learned of Hofmann.

The Hofmann School and the influx of European artists opened my sensibility to new horizons. These associations changed my visual perception. I no longer saw painting as an imitation of nature, but instead as an attempt to interpret nature on the picture plane.

I came to Provincetown to study with Hofmann. I found a most desirable north light studio at the Days Lumberyard, now the Fine Arts Work Center. Primitive as it was, it was memorable because the camaraderie and social and cultural exchange among the artists there. At the time, the group of artists consisted of Hans Hofmann, George McNeil, Fritz Bultman, William Freed, Perle Fine, Peter Busa, and Bruce McKain. In the early 50s, they were joined by Jan Muller, Myron Stout, Myrna Harrison, Earl Pierce, and James Gahagan. The catwalk became our forum for exchange of ideas of pictorial reality and chit-chat. In the late 50s, my husband, William Freed and I moved from Days Lumber Yard and built our studios on Brewster Street. Provincetown and the Provincetown Art Association provided an umbrella for artists of all schools of thought. The town and PAAM continue to encourage and accept controversial aesthetic ideas.

The future for me means new challenges, new experiences, and new creative possibilities. George McNeil had it right: “The first eighty years are the hardest, so now I hope for the best: freedom leading to more freedom.”

Lillian Orlowsky was born and raised in New York City, where she still currently resides. Appropriately, one of her first exhibitions was at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. In addition to painting, she has acted as a textile designer, a gallery director, a curator and a teacher. Her paintings are part of the permanent collections at several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Jerusalem Museum in Israel; the Archives of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Her work is exhibited as near as Manhattan, Provincetown and Boston and as far away as Copenhagen, Prague and Nimes, France. She continues to paint, lecture and curate.

Educational Alliance Art School, New York, 1932–1933
National Academy of Design, New York, 1933–1934
American Artist School (Raphael and Moses Soyer, Anton Refrigier),
New York, 1935–1936
Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art, New York and Provincetown, MA, 1937–1947

Selected Exhibitions:
New York World’s Fair, New York, 1939
Milch Gallery, New York
ACA Gallery, New York, 1940–1942
Educational Alliance Alumni, Educational Alliance, New York,1945, 1946
Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), Provincetown, MA, 1950–1991
HCE Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1951–1955
Burliuk Gallery, New York,1952
Gallery Artists, James Gallery, New York,1952–1962
Fine Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA, 1953
James Gallery, New York,1955
James Gallery, New York,1959
Stuttman Gallery, Provincetown, MA; New York, NY; Washington, DC, 1956–1960
James Gallery, New York,1960
James Gallery, New York,1962
Gallery Artists, Tirca Karlis Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1962–1976
“Works Progress Administration (WPA), Then and Now.” Parsons School of Design, New York, 1977
“The Co-ops of the Fifties.” Parsons School of Design, New York, 1977“Days Lumberyard Studios: Provincetown 1914–1971.”
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1978
“Hans Hofmann and His Students.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1980
Goddard College, Plainfield, VT
Adelphi College, NY, 1980
Lenore Ross Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Hofstra College, Long Island, NY, 1981
Ingber Gallery, New York, NY
“WPA Artists.” Hofstra College, Long Island, NY, 1983
“WPA Artists: Fiftieth Anniversary.” City Gallery of New York,
New York, 1984
Provincetown Artists Gallery, Provincetown, MA
Dennis DeBerry Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1985
“The Gathering of the Avante-Garde: The Lower East Side 1950–1970.” Kenkelebra House, New York, NY, 1985
Selected Works. National Council on Aging, Washington, DC
“The Assembled Image: An Exhibition of Collage and Construction.” (Curators: Jim Forsberg and Paul Bowen), PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1989
“The Artist’s Eye.” (Curator: Peter Hutchinson), PAAM, Provincetown, MA
“WPA Artists.” New Brunswick College, NJ
“The Provocative Years, 1935–1945: Hans Hofmann and His Students in Provincetown.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA,1990
“The Artist’s Eye.” (Curator: Jim Lechay), PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1991
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, MA, 1992
“USA on Paper.” City Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1993
Gallery Artists, Gallery Zhouf, Wellfleet, MA
Vernissage Le Samedi, Nimes, Uzes, France
Gallery K + B, Prague, Czech Republic
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA
Selected Works. Office de la Culture D’Uzes, Nimes, France, 1994
Gallery A, Most, Czech Republic
“Provincetown Abstract Painting 1915–1950; From the Collection of Penny and Elton Yasuna.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
“New York: Provincetown – A ‘50s Connection.” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
PAAM, Provincetown, MA, 1995
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA
Cortland Jessup Gallery, Provincetown, MA
“Provincetown Then and Now.” St. Botolph Club, Boston, MA, 1998
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA (solo exhibition)
“The Art Colony (First Century).” PAAM, Provincetown, MA
National Arts Club, New York City, NY, 2000
School House Gallery, Provincetown, MA (solo exhibition)
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA, 2001
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA (solo exhibition)
“Lillian Orlowsky: Early Masterworks” ACME Fine Art, Boston (solo) 2002
“A Lifetime of Art” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson, NJ (solo)
“Provincetown Women Artists” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Provincetown Painters” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“A Community of Artists: The Collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum” (traveling exhibition) Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL, 2002-2005
Gustavus Adolphus College, St Peter, MN
Price Tower Arts Center, Inc. Bartlesville, OK
Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA
St. John’s Museum of Art, Wilmington, NC
Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH
Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI
Mitchell Art Gallery, Annapolis, MD
2003 “Lillian Orlowsky” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson, NJ (solo)
“The New York School” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Lillian Orlowsky: The Fifties” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA (solo)
“Provincetown Painters” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“From the Collection: Hans Hofmann Students” Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA, 2004
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Dialogue with Hofmann: 1930s, ‘40s, & ‘50s” Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA (solo)
“A Community of Artists: The Collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum” Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, 2005
“From the Collection: Provincetown Painters” Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
“Artwork from the Collection of William Freed & Lillian Orlowsky” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Lillian Orlowsky: In Retropect” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA (solo)
“Teachers & Students” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Provincetown Painters” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
Cherrystone Gallery, Wellfleet, MA
“Tell Me What You See” (Elementary School Students selections from the P.A.A.M. permanent collection) Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA, 2006
“Provincetown Painters” Beauregard Fine Art, Rumson NJ
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA
“Drawings from Hans Hofmann’s Figure Drawing Class (1937-1955)”
ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA, 2007
“Summer Salon” ACME Fine Art, Boston, MA

Public Collections:
Archives of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD
Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
Jerusalem Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Judah L. Magney Museum, Jewish Museum of the West, Berkeley, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA
Rose Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA