Here's another Carlson. This one is getting pretty stylized. I did a little research tonight on Carlson in order to have some useful things to say and I ran across some information on him related by one of his students at Woodstock, Carl Peters. Peters became a well known Rockport painter and lived until 1980. At 16 Peters declared he was an artist and reputedly painted every day of his life thereafter.
Carl Peters once was explaining Carlsons palette saying "see that Prussian blue? That's Carlsons color, Carlson said if you make a green with it its green, if you make a purple with it its purple"
In later years Gruppe and a lot of other painters who had used Prussian traded it for Thalo blue. I wonder if Carlson would have, if he had lived into the 50's or 60's?
Carlson moved to Colorado and taught there for several years. Here is a picture I assume is from that period. Like the example above this one is highly stylized. I think both of these pictures are not the equal of those we looked at last night. I feel as if the are TOO designy looking, as the 20's slid into the 30's there was a period of painting sometimes called American scene painting that was often guilty of designing too much of the nature, ( in my opinion), out of their art. In part this was an attempt to reconcile the modernism that was storming American art with their wanting to still paint real things, all filtered through a desire to be as American as possible. A strange brew. A lot of the art done for the WPA was of this sort . So much in fact that it is sometimes called Post office art.
I think a lot of very weak art has been done in recent years by artists who can't decide whether they want to be modern or traditional. Years from now I believe we will look back on this as a transitional time as a resurgent realism reclaims its place beside the "modern " painting that has been the official art of the 20th century. There are some artists who have done this well, but they are very few. My friend Charles Movalli comes to mind.
Question? How much polka can you add to rock and roll before you wreck it? Not much. The two are not complimentary. I grew up in Minnesota, so I don't just hate polka, but it really ruins good rock when added in even the tiniest amount. The opposite is also true, How much rock and roll can you add to a polka before you ruin it? again, not much! Hendrix wisely avoided playing a shodish.
Now there's a particularly fine example of Carlson at his very best. Its not a winter image either. Notice the "envelope", that is the enveloping color note that runs like a drone throughout all of the painting. It is that spring green that is up in the tree trunks and in the branches against the sky, and on the ground. There are grays in the trees and the sky and a few patches of a rust color to relieve and compliment the greens. Carlson studied with Birge Harrison, a tonalist. This painting shows a lot of tonalist influence. When I look at this picture the middle aperture between the trees seems like a Gothic arch to me.. I think maybe this was a deliberate device to give a holy, or cathedral like feeling to the painting. Notice the upside down repetition of the same shape just to the left of the upright arch. All of these trees are tied together with great rhythmic, concave and convex springing arches that operate as a geometric substructure behind the randomness of nature. Carlson has hung nature on his scaffold of abstract design. He has also painted the trees with great delicacy. His values are a whole grade lighter than I would expect them to be. This also gives a quietude or reserved hush to the picture. I think this particular picturee is magical.
Here is another forest interior, but it is a new design and different from anything we have seen so far. I always enjoy seeing an artist try to find every single different way he can handle the same subject. Fredrick Waugh is an example of this. He painted the sea in every conceivable manner. Incidentally, you think I have rolled out a lot of obscure Carlsons? I could do this for a month with Waugh, none of which are from books. Ok, one more, and I am going to bed.
Now that' cool. Look at the way he has used the snow patches to break up the trees so the picture isn't too geometric and liney. Notice how they are all different but they all have a rhythmic relationship to each other. The way he has broken these up reminds me of Abbott Thayers designs for dazzle painting dreadnoughts in WW l