Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reclining American Venus: Nude Reclining by Arthur Beecher Carles

Nude Reclining (1921)

Here is a very sensous nude by that wonderful colourist Arthur Beecher Carles (1882-1952).  Carles was born in Philadelphia and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts there.  Whilst studying he received two grants which enabled him to travel and study in Europe. 

Self-portrait (1912)

These trips helped him immerse himself in the new artistic trends on the continent and he continued to travel to Europe during his career.  It is not an exaggeration to say that his exposure to these ideas and his advocacy of modernism made him an important channel for the movement to the US, especially as he taught at the Academy from 1917 until 1925.

Blue Nude (1937)

Later Carles became a modernist and experimented with cubism. Towards the end of his career he started to paint large abstract canvasses which are considered to be forerunners of abstract expressionism.

Reclining nude (1933)

Unfortunately, later in his life he struggled with alcoholism and his work was cut short when he suffered a massive stroke in 1941 which left him an invalid until his death in 1952.

Nude seated with book

His nudes vary enormously in style but all of them exhibit his keen eye for the use of colour and, indeed, he has been called one of the most brilliant colourists in American art. 

Reclining nude with red hair 1922

This picture, produced only a year after the painting at the top of this post shows how he started to deconstruct his iamges during the nineteen twenties.

Nude (1922)

He once said that "accuracy is an intellectual quality while art is an affair of the emotions" and was very much an expressionist by inclination.  He was also, in turn, a tonalist, an impressionist, a modernist and, eventually an abstract expressionist.

Nude in repose (1925)

All of his paintings, from the vibrant use of orange in the picture at the top of this post, to the cool colours of this later traditional work, use colour in a remarkable way.  Indeed, it is said that he revolutionised painting in the United States generally and he deserves to be better known in Europe.

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