“Radiant” was how Robert Motherwell described the work of Fritz Bultman, a painter and sculptor from New Orleans in the front ranks of the Abstract Expressionists. He met Hans Hofmann in Munich in 1935. Two years later, having followed Hofmann to Chicago, he met the Minimalist sculptor Tony Smith. In 1938, he set out to Provincetown to study with Hofmann, who was teaching in Hawthorne’s Class Studio on Miller Hill.
There, Bultman met Jeanne Lawson. They were wed in 1943, after which they acquired this sprawling property. Smith designed a studio for Bultman that is one of the finest works of Modernist architecture in town. It was first used for Hofmann’s summer school in 1945. Five years later, Bultman was among the 28 “Irascibles” — Hofmann, Motherwell, Weldon Kees, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were others — who boycotted a juried show at the Metropolitan Museum, charging that the museum had failed to recognize “advanced art.”
Later, Bultman turned to luminous collages that recall Matisse. Collaborating with Jeanne, he turned collages into stained-glass windows like one in their home. Jeanne was active in founding the Fine Arts Work Center, Fritz in the founding of the Long Point Gallery co-operative. The property is owned today by their son Ellis Johann Bultman and his wife, Bethany (Ewald) Bultman, founders of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation. In recent years, Bultman’s studio has been used by the painter Rob DuToit, who is represented by Gallery Ehva. Bultman’s estate is represented by the Albert Merola Gallery.
And the Met? It now has four Bultmans.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.