Jack Tworkov - 20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | Phillips
  • Jason Andrew, Director of the Estate of Jack Tworkov, gives insights into Marsh, 1963, a painting intimately tied to the environs of Cape Cod.

    Provincetown and the surrounding landscape of Cape Cod had a resounding and inspiring effect on the work of Jack Tworkov. “There is a quality of light that you get nowhere else. Because the bay and the dunes act like mirrors to the sky,” Tworkov told Horizon Magazine in 1961 in a collection of statements by artists working on the Cape. The article also featured Edwin Dickinson, Hans Hofmann and Edward Hopper among others.i

    Though the artist embraced pure painting, which he defined as abstraction without any key to verbal interpretation, there is a discernible sense of sky, horizon and foreground in this painting. As the title would suggest, the painting is a lenient translation—composites of views of the estuaries and salt marshes from one of the artist’s regular walks not far from his home that make up the Moors at the West End of Provincetown.


    Jack Tworkov on the dunes, Provincetown, Christmas 1960. Courtesy Tworkov Family Archives, New York

    Tworkov first arrived in Provincetown in the summer of 1923 by way of hitchhiking with his younger sister, the painter Janice Biala. “By 1935 I thought the town was ruined, submerged by visitors and I decided not to come back,” Jack said. But he did. In 1954, Tworkov walked down Commercial Street to the Moors west of town. He acknowledged the changes but he realized that, “what I came for was still here.” In August 1958, he purchased a house at 30 Commercial Street, and made Provincetown his summer home and studio.

    Tworkov rarely offered descriptive titles that directly reference subject matter (particularly when it came to landscapes). In 1958, at the height of his abstract expressionist period, Tworkov titled a towering vertical painting Capelight. “Something to do in Provincetown,” he wrote in his journal, “the dunes and woods, in a way nobody has done them. Seen thru my abstract painting, like Red Lake, Cape Light.”ii

    Compositionally, Marsh shares the horizontal structural “bars” evident in works like Elements, 1962, and Dune and Sky, 1963. Moreover, the aggressive gestural marks in the foreground mimic those found in his dense charcoal drawings of the mid 1950s—a sheen of expressive strokes. Marsh was one of the major works that followed Tworkov’s West 23rd, 1963, now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. The horizontal “bars” found in Marsh would give inspirational footing for two paintings Bar Decoration I, 1963-1964, Collection of the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and Bar Decoration II, 1963-1964, Collection of the Chrysler Museum of Art. “My painting,” Tworkov wrote, “is always a work of long progression of action absorbed by time.”iii

    Marsh, 1963, was painted during an eventful time for Tworkov. In January 1963, he was awarded the Corcoran Gold Medal from the 28th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In February, he opened his second solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery (from which the Museum of Modern Art acquired West 23rd). On March 1, he opened his second solo exhibition at the B.C. Holland Gallery in Chicago. And on March 27, he accepted the Chair position at the Yale School of Art and Architecture.iv

    As per the inventory card on file in the archive of the Estate of Jack Tworkov, Marsh, 1963, was sent on consignment to B.C. Holland Gallery in October 1963.


    About Tworkov and B.C. Holland.

    B.C. “Bud” Holland, was the son of an antiques dealer and a World War II bomber pilot who became one of Chicago’s premier art dealers. In the late 1950s, Holland partnered with Noah Goldowsky and together opening Holland-Goldowsky Gallery. The gallery gravitated toward the gestural painters associated with Abstract Expressionism in New York; Tworkov was one of the first artists associated with the movement to exhibit at the gallery. Others would include Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, and Franz Kline, and Aaron Siskind. In the Fall of 1960, the gallery opened a major survey of Tworkov’s work with selected paintings from 1950 to 1960. A catalogue with essay by Thomas B. Hess accompanied the exhibition. Tworkov would continue to participate in group exhibitions at the gallery. 

    Tworkov had a particularly close friendship with “Bud” Holland. On March 31, 1963, he took a plane to Chicago to see his second solo exhibition at the gallery and then join Holland in a cross- country trip from Chicago to Los Angeles and back in Holland’s Ford Thunderbird. Tworkov chronicled their trip in his journal.
    "The drive thru the desert, the Mojave, was breathtaking […] as the sun was setting, the color, which looks so banal on picture postal cards, in reality, is incredibly subtle […] the whole trip […] a scenic experience. The words big, vast, rugged, lovely, are the cliché words but accurate." —Jack Tworkov — Jason Andrew, Estate of Jack Tworkov, March 18, 2020


    i Robert Hatch, "At the tip of Cape Cod", Horizon III, July 1961, no. 6, pp. 10-29
    ii Mira Schor, ed. Extreme of the Middle: The Writings of Jack Tworkov, New Haven & London, 2009, p. 89
    iii Mira Schor, ed. Extreme of the Middle: The Writings of Jack Tworkov. New Haven & London, 2009 University Press, 2009, p. 89.
    iv Tworkov was responsible for the rescuing the Yale School of Art from the ashes left by Joseph Albers. Signature to his tenure was the recruitment of students and the establishment of a vital visiting artist program, which brought in artists with cross- disciplinary attitude. Students included: Jennifer Bartlett (’65), Judith Bernstein (’67), Chuck Close (’65), Rackstraw Downes (’64), Nancy Graves, Brice Marden (’63), Richard Serra (’64), William T. Williams (’68) among others.

    • Provenance

      B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago
      Private Collection, Chicago (acquired from the above)
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Literature

      Jason Andrew, ed., Jack Tworkov Online Catalogue Raisonné Project, 2009 - ongoing, no. 566, online (illustrated)

Property from a Distinguished Midwestern Collection



signed and dated "Tworkov 63" lower right
oil on canvas
41 7/8 x 57 in. (106.6 x 144.9 cm)
Painted in 1963.

Full Cataloguing

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $75,600

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261


20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York 8 December 2020