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Clarence Holbrook Carter, who was well-known for his large architectural paintings and symbolic landscapes, made his early reputation as a painter of the American scene in the 1930s and 1940s. These early drawings, watercolors and oils are realistic portrayals of rural America that sometimes express despair and loneliness spurred by the Great Depression.
Following World War II, Carter's style changed. Accomplishments in the field of advertising design encouraged experimentation and abstraction in his work. During the 1950s and 1960s, his work took on an increasingly surrealistic style with "monsters" and imaginary animals stalking fanciful landscapes. A prominent series of the period, Over and Above, featured over-sized animals leering at the viewer over a wall that dominates the lower portion of his large canvases. The artist's latest series, Transections and Eschatos, incorporates floating, transparent ovoid shapes transposed onto architectural landscapes. They represent the artist's conception of the human spirit striving for perfection.
Clarence Holbrook Carter. Photograph by Michael Bergman, 1982. Image courtesy of the artist.
Education and Training
Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 1923-1927
Hans Hofmann Summer School in Capri, Italy, 1927-1928
Teachers and Influences
Piero Della Francesca, fifteenth century Italian painter
In the mid-1920s, William Mathewson Milliken (1889-1978), a curator and future director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, took an interest in Carter's career by helping to build his reputation in the Cleveland art community and encouraging his studies in Europe.
Connection to Bucks County
In search of new surroundings, Clarence Carter moved to Holicong, Bucks County with his wife Mary Griswold Carter and their children in 1944. In 1948, he settled in his present home in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Carter had long been involved with the regional art community and had served as a judge at the annual Phillips' Mill Community Association Art show.
Colleagues and Affiliations
James A. Michener was a long time friend and admirer.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Carter exhibited his work in over 60 one man shows.
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey, 1974, 1987
Van Wickle Gallery, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1980
Distinguished Mid-Atlantic Artists, University of Delaware, Newark,
Newark Public Library, Newark, New Jersey, 1984
Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1988
Hunterdon Art Center, Clinton, New Jersey, 1993
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida, 1996
Clarence Holbrook Carter: Landscapes & Architectural Paintings, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1994
Clarence Carter and the American Scene, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1996
His work is represented in over 40 public collections.
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Major Group Exhibitions
Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1942,1943, 1944, 1946
American Paintings and Sculpture Annual, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, 1929, 1935, 1938, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1948
Paintings and Sculpture from Sixteen American Cities, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1933
Portrait of America, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1944
Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1954
Michener Foundation Collection, Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1966
Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1968-1969
Geometric Abstraction and Related Works, Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, 1978
Mathematics in Art, Geometry in 20th-Century Painting and Sculpture, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey, 1984
The Machine Age in America, 1918-1941, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1987
Clarence Carter and the American Scene, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1996
Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005-2006
Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism and Its Response in Pennsylvania Painting 1900-1950, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2007
An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2009-2010
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Instructor, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1930-1937
District Supervisor of Northeastern Ohio Federal Art Project, Works Progress Administration, 1937-1938
Assistant Professor, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, 1938-1944
Guest instructor at various colleges and universities from 1948-1960
Artist-in-Residence, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1961-1970
Workshop Chair for Symposium at Columbia University, New York, 1973
Cleveland Creative Art Award, 1972
Butler Institute of American Art Medal for Life Achievements in the Arts, 1992
New Jersey Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 1976, 1989, and 1993
Two murals, Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, 1934
Mural, United States Post Office, Ravenna, Ohio, 1936
Mural Series, United States Post Office, Portsmouth, Ohio, 1938
Mural, David Sarnoff Research Center, RCA, Princeton, New Jersey, 1967
Mural, 791 Bergen Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1972