Nanno de Groot (1913 - 1963)
Oil on canvas
43 x 35 inches
Signed and dated at center left: de Groot / '53
Signed and dated on the reverse: 4-29-53 / Nanno de Groot
Nanno de Groot was born in Balkbrug, Netherlands in 1913. He moved to New York in 1948, where he came to identify with abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline and Joan Mitchell. After his marriage to the New York School artist Elise Asher in 1948 de Groot settled in New York on West 12th Street and became connected to the pioneers of the New York School. He considered himself an American artist and part of the abstract expressionist movement. He participated from 1954 to 1957 in the invitational New York Painting and Sculpture Annuals. These Annuals were important because the participants were chosen by the artists themselves.
De Groot rented Fritz Bultman's Provincetown studio in 1956, the first of many summers he was to spend there. His wife Pat, also an artist, described the de Groot routine: "We bought Permalba White sixty pounds at a time. He did not use a knife... He did a lot of painting with the tube itself, squeezing long worms of paint onto the board or canvas, laying out the painting as he went along." His later pieces, readily identifiable by their generous attempts to sate our hunger for the paint, attest to de Groot's lifelong commitment to experimentation and exploration. Quoting Van Gogh in his notebooks, he writes, "Let the enthusiasm remain, otherwise we reach the summit of wisdom when nobody has any daring left."
De Groot was one of the formative but rarely seen artists of the great era of Abstract Expressionism in Provincetown. He 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 a 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.
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.