Clarence Holbrook Carter

Frank Anderson Trapp, Author, Douglas Dreishpoon, Author, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Author Rizzoli International Publications $45 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8478-0975-2
The shifting winds of taste have not favored Carter, 84, once widely hailed as a pioneer American surrealist painter. Yet this survey of his varied output (with 100 color plates) demonstrates that his best pictures still throb with mysterious vitality, even if much of his work now seems derivative or gimmicky. War Bride 1940 , which juxtaposes a steel mill with a veiled woman in white, prefigures our contemporary sense of the machine as a menace to human values; it can also be read as an ominous foretoken of the atomic age. The decomposing mastodon or totemic beast in Terror of History (1962)--a magnificent acrylic strewn with sand and pencil shavings--crystallizes Carter's sense of history as a nightmare from which mankind is unable to awake. Son of an Ohio postal clerk, he started out as a homespun realist, capturing the grim terror of the Depression, the windswept poetry of the prairies, the hope and poverty of Kentucky farms and Pittsburgh mills. His later ``abstract surrealism,'' featuring translucent, hovering ovoid shapes, is pretentious, but the paintings that click here are powerful statements. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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