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Carroll Cloar, Memphis, Tennessee Artist

(January 18, 1913 – April 10, 1993)

Carroll Cloar was an American painter born in Arkansas who painted images of the American South. He studied at Southwestern (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, TN, as well as the University of Memphis. Originally intent on becoming a comic strip illustrator, he moved to New York City and studied under Harry Sternberg and Ernest Fiene at the Art Students League where he became interested in lithography. In 1940 he was awarded the MacDowell Traveling Fellowship for his lithographs and traveled through Mexico before serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Post-war he traveled to Central and South America as well as Europe. This experience influenced his work exponentially and his folk-art based images became entwined with the sophistication of his studies creating timeless southern scenes filled with rhythmic strokes and patterns and intensified light and color.

Cloar’s work is heavily influenced by his southern roots as well as his childhood, dreams, observations, folklore, and old family albums and memorabilia. His affinity for the South is shown in his works and his words, “There is a joy in the sense of belonging, of possessing and being possessed, by the land you were born”. After a long struggle with cancer, Cloar took his own life on April 10, 1993. His works gained him national attention and were shown in many collections including the Modern Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Fine Art in Boston, Tennessee State Museum in Nashville and a recreation of his studio is displayed at the University of Memphis.


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Lot 211: Carroll Cloar Acrylic on Board, Weeping Willow Carroll Cloar Acrylic on Board, Weeping Willow Lot 211: Carroll Cloar Acrylic on Board, Weeping Willow

Carroll Cloar (American/Tennessee, 1913-1994) framed acrylic on board titled “Weeping Willow,” depicting a solitary older man sitting on the porch of a white Victorian house, under a bright sky, with verdant and immaculately clipped lawn in the foreground. An expansive weeping willow encroaches on the left side of the house, creating shadows across the porch. Signed lower left “Carroll Cloar” and additionally signed, titled, and dated July 1967 en verso. Housed in the original painted wooden frame with gilt liner. Sight – 22 1/2″ H x 33 1/2″ W. Framed – 29″ H x 39 1/2″ W. Biography (Courtesy of The Johnson Collection): Arkansas-born Carroll Cloar was known for incorporating nostalgic images from his Southern childhood, often merged with dreamlike motifs, into powerful “magic realist” scenes. Cloar graduated from Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee, and went on to study at the Memphis Academy of Arts under the artist George Oberteuffer. In 1936, he moved to New York to attend the Art Students League. There, Cloar’s achievements earned him a McDowell fellowship which he used to travel across the American Southwest, West Coast and Mexico. Cloar served with the Army Air Corps during World War II and was deployed to Saipan and Iwo Jima. Upon his return from the war, he was awarded a Guggenheim traveling scholarship to fund an extended sojourn to Central and South America in 1946. Two years later, several of his images were featured in a Life Magazine article titled “Backwoods Boyhood,” and Cloar’s career went on to receive additional national acclaim. By the mid 1950s, Cloar had settled permanently in Memphis, where he produced paintings, often executed in casein tempera and acrylic paints. His works are in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooks Museum of Art, and Library of Congress. In 1993, Cloar’s painting “Faculty and Honor Students, Lewis Schoolhouse” was one of six paintings by American artists selected to commemorate the inauguration of President Clinton. CONDITION: Painting overall excellent condition. Frame with some chips to corner. [See more photos →]

$51,920.00
Lot 127: Carroll Cloar painting, The Waiting, with sketch and poster Carroll Cloar painting, The Waiting, with sketch and poster Lot 127: Carroll Cloar painting, The Waiting, with sketch and poster

(3 items) – Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) acrylic on board painting titled, The Waiting, depicting figures standing in an open field, a brick building in the background covered with FS Chapell The Rabbit’s Foot Minstrel show advertising posters and a solitary seated figure in the foreground, wearing a bee keeper’s head gear/suit and eating an apple. Signed lower right Carroll Cloar. Titled, signed and dated 1-83 en verso, label for New York Forum Gallery. Housed in a silver-gilt molded frame. Sight – 22″ H x 33 1/8″ W. Framed – 29″ H x 40 1/2″ W. Also included with this painting is the original pencil study for the painting, signed and dated by the artist, 23″ H x 33″ W. Note: This painting was featured in the exhibit and used as the catalog cover for CARROLL CLOAR: TIMELESS TALES OF THE SOUTH at Belmont University in Nashvillle, May 22-July 13, 2003. A poster for the exhibit accompanies this lot, 24″ H x 33″ W. Provenance: The estate of Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee. Biography (Courtesy of The Johnson Collection): Arkansas-born Carroll Cloar was known for incorporating nostalgic images from his Southern childhood, often merged with dreamlike motifs, into powerful magic realist scenes. Cloar graduated from Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee, and went on to study at the Memphis Academy of Arts under the artist George Oberteuffer. In 1936, he moved to New York to attend the Art Students League. There, Cloar’s achievements earned him a McDowell fellowship which he used to travel across the American Southwest, West Coast and Mexico. Cloar served with the Army Air Corps during World War II and was deployed to Saipan and Iwo Jima. Upon his return from the war, he was awarded a Guggenheim traveling scholarship to fund an extended sojourn to Central and South America in 1946. Two years later, several of his images were featured in a Life Magazine article titled Backwoods Boyhood, and Cloar’s career went on to receive additional national acclaim. By the mid 1950s, Cloar had settled permanently in Memphis, where he produced paintings, often executed in casein tempera and acrylic paints. His works are in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooks Museum of Art, and Library of Congress. In 1993, Cloar’s painting, Faculty and Honor Students, Lewis Schoolhouse, was one of six paintings by American artists selected to commemorate the inauguration of President Clinton. CONDITION: Painting: Very good condition. Darker areas of varnish indicate that the varnish layer may not have been applied evenly. Frame with minor scattered abrasions, primarily lower left corner. Study: Pin-pricks to upper corners. Poster: Some bending top and bottom margins, 1/2 tear lower margin, pin-pricks to corners. [See more photos →]

$47,360.00
Lot 181: Carroll Cloar painting, The Watering Detail Carroll Cloar painting, The Watering Detail Lot 181: Carroll Cloar painting, The Watering Detail

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) acrylic on board landscape painting titled “The Watering Detail” en verso, depicting two little girls in pink dresses holding a watering can and a little boy in a yellow romper, standing in front of a screen door to a house; an older woman watches from an adjacent window. The white clapboard siding of the house is adorned by pink hollyhocks. Signed “Carroll Cloar” lower left; titled and dated 4-88 en verso. Silver-gilt molded frame. 23″ x 34″; framed 31″ x 42″. Accompanying the painting is a Cloar promotional postcard, on which the artist has written a note regarding the painting: “Mr. Massie: I have used the word “detail” in the old Army sense. In our army you were detailed to do a certain job, or were on a detail. My show opens at Schmidt Bingham Gallery in New York May 24. – Carroll Cloar “. Biography (Courtesy of The Johnson Collection): Arkansas-born Carroll Cloar was known for incorporating nostalgic images from his Southern childhood, often merged with dreamlike motifs, into powerful “magic realist” scenes. Cloar graduated from Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee, and went on to study at the Memphis Academy of Arts under the artist George Oberteuffer. In 1936, he moved to New York to attend the Art Students League. There, Cloar’s achievements earned him a McDowell fellowship which he used to travel across the American Southwest, West Coast and Mexico. Cloar served with the Army Air Corps during World War II and was deployed to Saipan and Iwo Jima. Upon his return from the war, he was awarded a Guggenheim traveling scholarship to fund an extended sojourn to Central and South America in 1946. Two years later, several of his images were featured in a Life Magazine article titled “Backwoods Boyhood,” and Cloar’s career went on to receive additional national acclaim. By the mid 1950s, Cloar had settled permanently in Memphis, where he produced paintings, often executed in casein tempera and acrylic paints. His works are in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooks Museum of Art, and Library of Congress. In 1993, Cloar’s painting “Faculty and Honor Students, Lewis Schoolhouse” was one of six paintings by American artists selected to commemorate the inauguration of President Clinton. Provenance: Private Middle Tennessee collection. CONDITION: Fingerprint smudge upper right edge. Overall very good condition. Frame has some small edge abrasions. [See more photos →]

$22,420.00
Lot 120: Carroll Cloar Lithograph, "The Ingredients" Carroll Cloar Lithograph, "The Ingredients" Lot 120: Carroll Cloar Lithograph, "The Ingredients"

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) signed lithograph, “The Ingredients,” also known as “Making of a Drawing,” depicting ghostly black and white figures holding books about art and drawing, surrounding a young artist at work (presumably Cloar). A rural farm scene is visible in the background. Pencil signed in lower right corner, titled in lower left corner. Framed under glass in narrow black frame. Image – 14 7/8″ H x 10 1/8″ W. Sight – 15 1/2″ H x 11 5/8″ W. Framed – 20 3/4″ H x 14 3/4″ W. Provenance: The estate of Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee. CONDITION: Overall very good condition with light even toning. [See more photos →]

$3,480.00
Lot 182: Carroll Cloar drawing, Draught of Fishes Carroll Cloar drawing, Draught of Fishes Lot 182: Carroll Cloar drawing, Draught of Fishes

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) pencil on paper landscape drawing titled “The Draught of Fishes,” circa 1965, depicting a group of fish along with a turtle and other aquatic life forms laying on the bank of a pond or lake; just beyond, a young man in overalls holds a large and partially submerged net. Titled lower left and signed “Carroll Cloar” at right. 23″ x 34″, unframed. Provenance: Private Middle Tennessee collection. Note: this is a study for one of Cloar’s most significant oil paintings, profiled in a 2013 article in Memphis: The City Magazine by Kenneth Neill. The whereabouts of the original painting are currently unknown. CONDITION: 1 1/4″ loss to upper right corner, scattered pin holes at corners, 1 1/2″ smudge lower center, crease at left edge and right upper corner, several light creases and handling dings. [See more photos →]

$3,276.00
Lot 130: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Woman in Field Carroll Cloar Drawing, Woman in Field Lot 130: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Woman in Field

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) pencil and marker on paper landscape drawing depicting a long haired female figure wearing a checkered apron left foreground with hands in her pockets, standing in an open field rendered in colored marker. Signed, Carroll Cloar, lower left. 23″ H x 36″ W. Provenance: The Estate of Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee. CONDITION: Scattered pin holes to all corners. Some light creases to paper. [See more photos →]

$2,560.00
Lot 66: Carroll Cloar Lithograph, Sunday Group Carroll Cloar Lithograph, Sunday Group Lot 66: Carroll Cloar Lithograph, Sunday Group

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1994) lithograph titled “Sunday Group”, signed in pencil lower right. Contemporary black wood frame. Sight: 8 1/4″ x 12 3/8″. Framed – 17″ H x 21 3/8″ W. Provenance: Estate of A. Welling LaGrone Jr., Nashville, Tenn., ex-Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell. Condition: Corner crease upper right and lower left, light toning. [See more photos →]

$1,740.00
Lot 212: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Flowers We Gathered Carroll Cloar Drawing, Flowers We Gathered Lot 212: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Flowers We Gathered

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1994) pencil on paper drawing titled “The Flowers We Gathered”, depicting a man holding flowers in the foreground and a homestead with figures on the porch in the background. Titled lower middle and signed lower right. Housed in a painted grey wooden frame. Sight – 22″ H x 33″ W. Framed – 27 7/8″ H x 38 3/4″ W. Provenance: Private Nashville, TN collection. CONDITION: Some light creasing noted to lower section of paper, otherwise overall very good condition. [See more photos →]

$1,652.00
Lot 119: Caroll Cloar Drawing, "Pals" Caroll Cloar Drawing, "Pals" Lot 119: Caroll Cloar Drawing, "Pals"

Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1993) pencil on paper figural studies on a single sheet titled “Pals” depicting two women standing and embracing named “Luella” and “Rhoda”; the artist as a young boy holding a puppy and “Mama” in the center; and solitary male sitting in a rope swing. Titled lower left and signed “Carroll Cloar” lower right. 23″ H x 34″ W. Provenance: The estate of Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee. CONDITION: Good condition overall with minimal staining to lower left bottom corner and 1″L spot to right lower margin. Pin holes to top corners. Small hole lower left corner. [See more photos →]

$1,408.00
Lot 425: Carroll Cloar drawing Carroll Cloar drawing Lot 425: Carroll Cloar drawing

Pencil on paper drawing by Carroll Cloar (Tennessee, 1913-1994), sketches of figures, all identified, including “Margie and Mother,” “Brother Tom”, etc. Signed lower left in pencil and dated ’65 lower right. Unframed. 24″ x 35-1/2″. Provenance: Estate of Salli LaGrone, Franklin, Tennessee, ex-Dr. Benjamin Caldwell collection. Condition: Minor tears at edges, creases, light handling grime. [See more photos →]

$1,276.00
Lot 105: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Children at Play Carroll Cloar Drawing, Children at Play Lot 105: Carroll Cloar Drawing, Children at Play

Carroll Cloar, pencil on paper study drawing of four children (two boys and two girls), each holding a stick or ball. Signed lower right “Carroll Cloar”. Pencil inscription en verso of sketch, “Alice B” (likely a reference to Memphis gallery owner Alice Bingham, who represented Cloar). Unframed. 11″ x 23″. Provenance: The estate of Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee. CONDITION: Toning and creasing, including a full length crease across one figure at far left and another 8″ crease at left side; handling dings, 1/2″ tear left edge, couple minor spots of foxing. [See more photos →]

$896.00