Known for his uninhibited use of color and enthusiasm for modernist principles, Arthur B. Carles is considered a forerunner of the Abstract Expressionists. Born in Philadelphia in 1882, he trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. As a student, Carles received two scholarships that allowed him to study and travel in Europe, where he immersed himself in the newest trends in art. He continued to make trans-Atlantic trips throughout his career and earned a reputation as an important conduit of European modernist ideas.

In 1910 Carles’s work was included in the “Younger American Painters” show held at 291, Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery. A one-man show at 291 followed in 1912, and Carles exhibited two landscapes at the seminal Armory Show of 1913. After these early successes, Carles became a fervent spokesman for modern art in his native Philadelphia and played an influential role as a teacher to younger artists.


During the 1920s, Carles began experimenting with cubist planes of color and renewed his acquaintance with Hans Hofmann, whom he had met years before in Paris. The two artists, accompanied by Carles’s daughter, Mercedes, who was Hofmann’s pupil, lived together in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1934. In the last phase of his career, Carles painted a number of ambitious abstract compositions, ones that prophesied future directions in Abstract Expressionism. The full flowering of this chapter of his career was never realized due to a debilitating stroke in 1941 with a stroke that left him an invalid until his death in 1952.

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