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…In his unusual paintings Carroll Cloar set down his memories, an admittance of sentiment, within the private world of childhood in the southern small town where he grew up. He presents images such as a prim ghost in gingham standing at the end of a brass bedstead, a tree growing bottles, or a lonely child swinging on parallel bars at the edge of a deserted playground, and gives them homely titles such as Story Told By My Mother ( There was a Woman, and a Panther…and Something).

—Rabbit Foot, Carroll Cloar
Memphis, Tennessee
I’ve traveled much into and out of Memphis because the Center for Southern Folklore abides there. Its abiding presence, Judy Peiser, is a multimedia Canute forbidding waves of modernism to submerge her native region’s folklore, and she’s winning. So is the Brooks Memorial Gallery, and the nearby Memphis Academy of Art. —Read More:

Cloar was born and raised on a farm in Earle, Arkansas, a whistle-stop in the cotton bottom lands along the Mississippi. His interest in art began early, and after finishing college, he left for New York in 1936 to study at the Art Students’ League. Thereafter his travels took him all over the world but seldom back to Earle, until it hit him that he didn’t really want to travel anymore, that he wanted to go home, and that belonging suddenly seemed terribly important to him. The sentiment that he had always belonged to the land, its roots being too deep and strong to be broken. So, far removed from the dominant fashion he was circulating in, he detached himself and returned to America, settling down to painting in Memphis, Tennessee, thirty miles across the river from his home town.

—Carroll Cloar, American, 1913-1993
Casein tempera on Masonite
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN;
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morrie A. Moss 55.24—Read More:


(see link at end)….(1993)…Carroll Cloar, a Realist painter whose 1966 painting of children holding an American flag was reproduced on a poster commemorating President Clinton’s inauguration, died on Saturday at his home in Memphis. He was 80.

He had cancer for several years and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said his wife, Patricia Sandstead Cloar.

—Cloar’s work is so difficult to categorize that scholars began to describe it as within the genre of “magic realism.” In the 1977 catalog of his work, titled Hostile Butterflies and Other Paintings, essayist Guy Northrop notes that Cloar tackled the themes of “birth, life and death, of the family, friends, work, school, religion, man’s relationships to other men and to nature, of hopes and dreams and faith, or memories and desires, of virtues and morality, sin and failure, of fears and anxieties, hardships, love, pleasures, rewards and intermezzos—all these are universals.” Cloar described his images as “American faces, timeless dress and timeless customs…the last of old America that isn’t long for this earth.”—Read More:

Mr. Cloar was born on his family’s farm near Earle, Ark., on Jan. 18, 1913, and throughout his life he used images of rural America in his work, sometimes portraying events from his own life, including the death of a childhood friend in a fall from a tree. …Mr. Cloar’s Realism was sometimes compared to Edward Hopper’s, sometimes to Ben Shahn’s and it also had a distinct Surrealist slant. He made his New York debut in a group show at the gallery of Edith Gregor Halpert in the late 1940′s and exhibited regularly in the city, at the Alan Gallery in the 1950′s and 60′s and at the Forum Gallery in the 70′s and 80′s. Read More:

—Mama and Charlie Mae in the Garden, Carroll Cloar—Read More:

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