It’s Day 113 and I was going to paint the ceiling of my art studio/laundry room, but I’m sore from prior painting and don’t want to get too sucked into things before heading out to improv. Join me in honoring Carl Holty today!
Carl Robert Holty (1900-1973) was a German-born American abstract painter. Raised in Wisconsin, he was the first major abstract painter to gain notoriety from the state. Harold Rosenberg described Holty as “a figure of our art history,” known for his use of color, shape and form.
Carl Holty was born in 1900 in Freiburg, Germany. His parents, Americans, lived in
Freiburg while his father, a doctor, studied specialty medicine since 1899. His father was German, gaining citizenship in the United States in 1906. Shortly after his birth the family moved back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they lived in the German district with his grandparents. The Holty family then moved to the countryside near Green Bay where his father practiced medicine, before returning to Milwaukee around 1906.Holty’s grandfather introduced him to art by visiting local art galleries. Around the age of 12, Holty began taking lessons with a local German painter. As a teenager he started drawing cartoons and became interested in poster art. He attended Milwaukee University School, graduating high school within 2 1/2 years. In 1919 he went to Marquette University, then joining the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps during World War I, with the program ending within the same year. Back in college, he experimented with medicine, only to visit home to tell his father he wanted to attend art school. That summer he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, eventually attending classes at the Parsons School of Design. He returned to Milwaukee in 1923 and opened a portrait painting studio.
In 1925 Holty married and honeymooned in Europe, living there for the next ten years of his life, first in Munich and then Switzerland. In Switzerland Mrs. Holty sought treatment for her tuberculosis, dying in 1930. He moved to Paris that year, before returning to the United States in 1935 and living in New York City. In New York he remarried and had a daughter. He taught at Brooklyn College from 1950 until 1970. Upon his retirement from Brooklyn he was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. While at Brooklyn, he also was a visiting instructor at the Art Students League, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Louisville. Holty would die, March 22, 1973 in New York City.
In 1926, while living in Munich, Holty originally planned to attend the Royal Academy, only to train
under Hans Hofmann. Hofmann’s ideas about space, color, shape would transform Holty’s work, with Holty’s work becoming more abstract as time went on.
“No one had ever talked to me about conceptual drawing, about knowing what I’m looking at from the point of view of my tactile knowledge as well as my visual knowledge. Hofmann did. And the world opened up just like that.”
– Carl Holty on Hans Hofmann’s influence
From 1930 to 1935 he lived in Paris, exhibiting his work to good reception. There he met Robert Delaunay and joined Delaunay’s group Abstration-Création. He would have his work published in the groups magazine, and his work became associated with Cubism and Neo-Plasticism. His Paris works have been compared to the paintings of Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism.
Upon returning to the United States, he found artist representation in New York City and became involved, once again, with Hans Hofmann and Vaclav Vytlacil and Stuart Davis, the latter whom he knew in Paris. Vytlacil invited Holty to participate in discussions which led to the formation of the American Abstract Artists, which Holty would eventually come to chair, retaining his membership until 1944. During this time, he moved away from Cubism and started to experiment with Biomorphism. In the 1930s he used tape to give strong edges to forms, also reworking and overpainting sections, as seen in his work Gridiron (1943-1944). Between 1945 and 1948 he was represented by the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery. He continued to explore shapes and form, and in the 1960s contours had disappeared from his work, being replaced with subtle toned down colors.
Holty served as artist in residence at Georgia State University, University of Florida, University of California at Berkeley, University of
Wisconsin and the Corcoran School of Art. He also wrote a book, with Romare Bearden, titled The Painter’s Mind, published in 1969.
Biography is from wikipedia.
I decided to focus on a specific era of Holty’s paintings. With some artists (more than less), I notice that’s it’s difficult trying to pick which style evolution I want to emulate.
I hope you enjoy my painting today. I really enjoyed creating it. I’m going to get some feedback done for my writing group now! I’ll see you tomorrow on Day 114. Best, Linda