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Permanent Collection

History and Philosophy 


CCMoA’s founders were concerned that the best art produced in the region would leave Cape Cod and end up being owned by collectors and museums all over the country so that future generations of Cape and Islands children would have no concrete examples of their artistic heritage.  With that in mind, the museum has chosen to focus its collections on work inspired by our region as well as art that has inspired the artists of our region.

The exhibition policy expands to include work by any artists who have had in the past, or may have in the future, an influence on the art world in general.  For example, an exhibition of Cape and Islands printmakers could be supplemented by an exhibition of old master prints because the latter had a profound influence on these local artists.

Cape Cod Museumof Art

"Helen and Bob ('mudheads')" by Henry Hensche

Using the walls of the museum as our canvas, we strive, as curators and educators, to provide a varied visual experience so that any one individual will be able to find work which will draw them into the world of the artist.  In addition, we hope to provide aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating presentations to diverse audiences – from our youngest to oldest visitors.

Works from the permanent collection are included in 2 to 3 exhibitions each year, curated by our docents and in retrospectives.  We also exhibit work by a variety of living regional artists and collectors, and are actively involved in scholarship related to local movements, schools, and artists.

In 1981, sculptor Harry Holl and lawyer-artist Roy Freed founded the Cape Cod Museum of Art to preserve the art of the Cape for Cape Codders. Today, CCMoA is the only museum totally dedicated to preserving and exhibiting works by outstanding artists, past and present, of the entire Cape Cod and Islands region.     The influence of the artists highlighted here has been profound. They represent a series of interrelationships - student to teacher - colleague to colleague - which unites the artistic heritage of the region.   

Several Cape teachers have been very influential in Cape Cod and American art history, including Charles Hawthorne, Henry Hensche, R. H. Ives Gammell, and Hans Hofmann, all represented in the museum's collection.  Many of their students are also represented in the collection and their work shows the influence of their teachers as well as the results of their own explorations.

The Cape's natural beauty and luminous light inspired Impressionists to seek it out at the turn of the 20th century.  In 1899, Charles W. Hawthorne established the first art school on the Cape, the Cape School of Art, in Provincetown.  He also built a reputation as a painter of portraits and you can see an example of his work in “Portrait of Anita,” in the collection.  

Edwin Dickinson ("Female Nude Study") and R. H. Ives Gammell ("Angel with Censer") both studied with Hawthorne as young men, and then followed very different paths.  Dickenson concentrated on the grays of the coastal landscape, and Gammill pursued his intellectual and allegorical interests. 

Cape Cod Museum of Art

 "Family" by Arnold Geissbuhler

Hawthorne taught Henry Hensche, who later took over the school, and taught there for 50 years.  Hensche taught his students to “see the world as a mosaic of color changes.” His “Tea Time” illustrates impressionist color observation in a formal still life arrangement. Hensche's student, Hilda Neily clearly learned the art of impressionist observation as shown in her outdoor arrangement, "Ginger Jar in Morning." 

After the Second World War, there was a tremendous influx of eager art students. Sal Del Deo ("Still Life Concept II") came to study with Hensche and still lives in Provincetown.   Varujan Boghosian ("Something for Magritte") and Robert Douglas Hunter ("The Life Guard") and other artists represented in the permanent collection, all came at this time, interacted with each  and developed their own personal styles.      

At the same time that Gammell and Hensche were teaching impressionist and academic techniques, German-born Hans Hofmann was defining abstract expressionism. Hofmann's "Untitled" epitomizes his work from the early 1950's.  Among the many Hofmann students represented in the CCMoA collection are Haynes Ownby ("Homage to a Crop Circle"), Robert Henry ("The Surprise Bravo"), Selina Trieff ("Two Figures - Red and Black") and Sam Feinstein ("Summertime").

Some artists sought other areas of the Cape in which to settle.  CCMoA's co-founder, Harry Holl, settled in Dennis and founded Scargo Pottery, a center of sculpture and ceramics, and trained many of the serious potters on the Cape.  The works of his father-in-law, Swiss-born sculptor Arnold Geissbuhler ("Portrait of Mr. Virot"), formed the core collection of the museum.  Art Historian Al Kochka has studied Geissbuhler's influences, his life, and his work, and produced an important research document for CCMoA.

Collection Highlights
Alexander Calder


A wonderful Alexander Calder print from David and Nancy Kaplan is among the works in the permanent collection. Alexander Calder was primarily known for his sculptures but he also produced paintings, drawings, jewelry, toys and prints. Calder worked with Stanley William Hayter, who founded the Atelier 17 Workshop in Paris for graphic artists and helped establish graphic arts to be recognized as its own art form.


Calder's impact on Cape Cod art can be seen in the work of Arthur Bauman, whose mobile, "Once in a Blue Moon," hangs prominently in the Hope-McClennan Gallery. Bauman began to make mobiles in 1968 after watching films about Calder when he was in the U.S. Foreign Service in Ahman, Jordan. 

Cape Cod Museum of Art
The Morris Cohen Collection: American Impressionists
John Joseph Enneking & Joseph Eliot Enneking


The paintings in this colletion are the gift of the late Professor Morris Cohen.  Professor Cohen (1911-2005) taught at MIT and is considered the father of modern materials science.  He received numerous awards for his work in this country and abroad, including the National Medal of Science, given by President Carter in 1977. 

John Joseph Enneking  (1841-1916), American landscape painter, was born of German ancestry, in Minster, Ohio in 1841.

Enneking was a plein-air painter and his favorite subject was the twilight of New England.  During his lifetime, his work was known and admired all over the country.  He enjoyed a distinguished career as an artist and served as President of the Boston Art Club.

Cape Cod Museum of Art

The works in this exhibition depict his love for landscape and point to the role he played in American Art History as an important link in the chain connecting the early French Impressionists to the American Impressionist movement. His first European trip, from 1872 to 1876, gave him the opportunity to study, both the established academic methods and the flowering of French Impressionism almost a full generation before the men and women who comprised the Boston School and his work influenced them.

Enneking cared passionately about unspoiled landscape.  He became an active conservationist, and was elected to the position of Park Commissioner in Boston. The quality of his work and his personal humility are demonstrated by the fact that Childe Hassam invited him to join the Group of 10 American Painters and he declined.  In 1915 a dinner was given in his honor at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston.  Over 1,000 people attended and Enneking was crowned with the victor's laurel wreath by Cyrus Dallin, the sculptor whose APPEAL TO THE GREAT SPIRIT stands in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881-1942) studied with his father and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with Joseph DeCamp, Frank Benson and Edmond C. Tarbell. He was an impressionist painter who recorded the New England landscape and was known for his sun-splashed landscapes.

    - Elizabeth Ives Hunter, former Executive Director 

Anonoymous Gift of Hans Hofmann Painting


"When I paint, I improvise. I deny theory and method and rely only on empathy and feeling. In 

teaching, it is just the opposite. I must account for every line, shape and color. One is forced to 

explain the inexplicable." - Hans Hofmann


Hans Hofmann (1880 - 1966), renowned Provincetown artist and teacher, was considered by many to be the Father of Abstract Expressionism.  He pioneered teaching of this new movement of modern art  which catapulted America to the forefront of the world art stage in the middle of the 20th century.    

Hofmann's paintings are held in many of the world's museums, and Cape Cod Museum of Art was recently given an anonymous gift of his work, Untitled, an oil on canvas. 

Cape Cod Museum of Art

In receiving the donation, Elizabeth Ives Hunter, former CCMoA executive director said, "We are delighted to have this fine example of this important painter's work.  He contributed so much to the art of Cape Cod and to American art.  This piece compliments our large collection of the work of his students. Untitled is a fine example of how Hofmann created surface areas of intense color that produce a dynamic tension between and among the forms, lines and textures."  


Art Historian Al Kochka, CCMoA's Director of The Geissbuhler Project, added, "Hofmann motivated a mighty surge of creative artistic output that inspired an estimated 6,000 students whom he taught at his schools.  So many of his students achieved careers in their own right."    


From the mid-30's through the late 50's, Hofmann divided his time teaching between New York and Provincetown.  Among his students whose work is in CCMoA's permanent collection are:  Robert Beauchamp, Fritz Bultman, Sheila Burlingame, Peter Busa, Sam Feinstein, Robert Fisher, William Freed, James Gahagan, Red Grooms, Myrna Harrison, Robert Henry, Charles Kaeselau, Mary Kass, Erik Koch, Jack Larned, Toni Laselle, William Littlefield, George McNeil, Lillian Orlowsky, Haynes Owmby, Earl Pierce, Paul Resika, Jo Sandman, Selina Trieff, Tony Vevers and Tara Yamamoto. These artists expand the meaning of Hofmann's influence and the vital interchange of ideas.

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