Published: January 14, 2003
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. – A cache of manuscripts and photographs by and about the mid-Twentieth Century American artist Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952) was recently given to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts by longtime academy supporters Dr and Mrs Perry Ottenberg.
This generous donation, the largest collection of any single artist’s papers ever given to the academy, solidifies the academy’s standing as one of the premier sources of scholarly information on a number of highly influential American artists, including Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt and Cecilia Beaux.
In addition to the nearly 2,000 letters, historic records, personal documents and postcards, a number of fascinating photographs reveal the artist, his studio, friends and students. This trove includes primarily incoming correspondence between Carles and numerous famous names within the literary, art and music community, including Albert C. Barnes, Hugh Breckenridge, Hans Hofmann, George Howe, Henry McCarter, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Leopold Stokowski.
Carles studied at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1903 to 1907, winning the prestigious Cresson Travel Scholarships in 1905 and 1907. After travel in Europe and extended stays in France, he returned to the United States thoroughly imbued with the modernist aesthetic of Henri Matisse and the circle of artists around Gertrude and Leo Stein. During the period from 1910 to the late 1930s he was a key figure in Philadelphia’s art world and its avant-garde intellectual scene. Carles taught painting classes at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1917 to 1925, where he influenced many local modernists such as Morris Blackburn, Saul Schary, Jane Piper and Quita Brodhead.
He co-curated the landmark “Exhibition of American Drawings and Paintings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art,” featuring scores of American Modernists. In addition, in 1923, he assisted and advised Albert C. Barnes with the exhibition of Barnes’ collection at the academy. Carles has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1940s, 1953, 1966 and 1983, and at the Woodmere Art Museum in 2001. His works are found in numerous public and private collections.
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