Joseph Kaplan (1900-1980) was a painter, printmaker, photographer, and teacher who worked primarly in New York and Provincetown. He was most active in the 1940s through the 1950s. Earlier in his career he worked on several WPA Federal Art Projects and Treasury Relief Art Projects.
Joseph Kaplan was born in Minsk, Russia and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1888 at the age of 12. He married Virginia Haber in 1927 and they had no children.
Kaplan studied at the Eductional Alliance Art School and the Art Students League. He went to Provincetown in the mid-twenties as a student of Charles W. Hawthorne with whom he previously studied with at the National Academy of Design. Afterwards he revisited Provincetown intermittently and began to regard the Cape as his summer studio, working there each summer since 1948.
In 1948 he won the first of many gold medals from the Audubon Artists at the National Academy of Design for a marine painting. He was also the first recipient of the John J. Newman Memorial Medal, given by the National Society of Painters in Casein for his Wellfleet, Low Tide. The Shore Studios in Provincetown, the Harry Salpeter Gallery and then Krasner Gallery in New York City represented Kaplan's artwork.
Kaplan predominantly worked in watercolor and oil paint, depicting landscapes and seascapes, and becoming acclaimed as a Colorist and Romanticist. He occasionally painted figures and, as he gained recognition, he traveled extensively in search for subjects. In 1968 Kaplan recieved a grant from Chapelbrook Foundation to live and work for a year in Mexico.
Kaplan's work was included frequently in group exhibitions and he participated in more then 30 major shows in his lifetime. Throughout his career he was a member of many art organizations including Artists League of America, Audubon Artists, Provincetown Art Association, and Cape Cod Art Association. He was continually active in the art life in Provincetown serving as board members, trustees, and judges. He also occasionally taught at art schools including the American Artist School and John Reed Club, and taught a number of private pupils.
Joseph Kaplan died on February 28th, 1980 at the age of 79 in Brewster, Massachusetts.