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Many artists who came to Provincetown in the early 20th century had lived and worked in the artists’ colonies of coastal Atlantic France. The outbreak of war in 1914 kept them from travelling abroad and in Provincetown they found a similar sense of place and motifs where they could apply the modern styles they had learned in France. Provincetown’s fishing community and landscapes provided themes that were explored by painters and printmakers in this new creative utopia at land’s end. This talk outlines a history of French artist colonies and draws from PAAM’s permanent collection to trace the creative synthesis of many places, artistic styles and genres that happened in Provincetown.
Maura Coughlin (PhD, NYU 2001) is an Art Historian who teaches courses in Art History, Visual Studies and the Environmental Humanities. Her recent research concerns French Atlantic visual culture, coastal ecology, the rise of marine sciences in France and it encourages dialogues between 19th and 21st century aesthetics and ecological ethics. Her methods combine first-hand experience of coastal landscapes, primary research in museums, archives and artist communities with a methodology informed by ecocriticism, new materialism and trans-corporeality. Across her projects is a shared fascination with the material flows of fish and animals, seaweed, salt, people, sand, stones, boats and other actors that move across and through the tide line, and the ways in which the visual culture of the shore visualizes intensely local perceptions of tide, geology, beach morphology, and marine botany. She serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association.