NANNO DE GROOT
Nanno De Groot was one of the formative but rarely seen artists of the great era of Abstract Expressionism in Provincetown. De Groot was one of many avant-garde artists who congregated seasonally in the lower cape art colony. They were largely drawn by cheap rent, great scenery and the school of Hans Hofmann. There was also subsidy through the GI Bill in the post war era of the late 1940's and early 1950's. A focal point of this activity was Forum 49, a series of lectures and exhibitions during the summer of 1949 organized by Weldon Kees and others that debated the new art. Fellow artists were Peter Busa, Fritz Bultman, Jack Tworkov and artists of the older generation like Karl Knaths, Blanche Lazzell and Edwin Dickinson.
While some aspects of De Groot's work are generic to the ideas of the time, he was a uniquely strong and gifted painter. There is wonderful facility and angst in his mark-making. In his early work the nervous black lines suggest forms or figures that make one think of European Post War artists like Dubuffet and Giacometti. The works are gestural and confined in palette and all are compelling enough to command respect and further study.
Some catalogue notes establish that he was born in 1913 in Holland, served in its Navy during the war and applied for US citizenship while stationed in San Francisco in 1946. He started to make art in 1948 and hit his stride in 1950-52 when he lived in New York City. He showed in 1953 with the seminal Hansa Gallery and in 1954 with Tanager and Bertha Schaefer. In 1956 he rented Fritz Bultman's studio in Provincetown where he moved in 1962. While in the process of building a house on Commercial Street overlooking the water he died at the age of 50 in 1963.