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Between Nature and Abstraction: Edwin Dickinson and Friends

August 18, 2018–February 10, 2019

Edwin Dickinson’s inventive work sets him apart from any other American painter of the twentieth century. Drawing from nature, heroes like El Greco and Cézanne, and the many styles of modernism, Dickinson worked with a singular independence. See how he and contemporaries Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, and others followed their own stars and pursued idiosyncratic paths to modernism.

This installation was inspired by a recent bequest of six paintings by Dickinson from the late collector Daniel W. Dietrich II.

Browse works by Dickinson’s contemporaries, including Edward Hopper and Charles Webster Hawthorne.

Main Building

About the Artist

Born in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1891, Edwin Dickinson studied painting in New York City with William Merritt Chase, before moving to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to attend the classes of Charles Hawthorne. After a stint in the US Navy during World War I and two years in Paris, he settled on Cape Cod, where he would remain until 1944.

As his large, symbolic figure paintings became better known in the 1940s, he moved to New York. There he gained a reputation as a teacher, respected by progressive younger painters for his vision as an artist and his independence. Hailed as a “painter’s painter,” Dickinson was celebrated at the Venice Biennale in 1968, and in major retrospective exhibitions in 1965 and at the time of his death in 1978.

Self-Portrait, 1940, by Edwin Walter Dickinson (American, 1891–1978), 1970-76-2


The exhibition has been made possible with funds provided by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation.


Kathleen A. Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art, and Director, Center for American Art

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