Sullivan Goss
AN AMERICAN GALLERY
Celebrating 27 Years of 19th, 20th and 21st Century American Art
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Harry Carmean

(b. 1922)

Master Figurative Painter & Romantic Mannerist

by Frank Goss

Master draftsman and celebrated figure painter, Harry Carmean, taught figurative art at Art Center College of Design for 46 years. His work unites classical and mannerist compositions with Romantic subjects and more modern colors and brushwork to create a figurative art that is both timeless and fresh.




Table Of Contents

I. Biography

Under Construction

II. An Analysis of the Artist's Work

In Carmean's personality there are echoes of Sisyphus, that mythic man who was condemned to repeat a task over and over, always with the hope that he would get it right. Carmean too seems compulsive, as if he is driven to draft and paint. It is not unusual for him to rework a canvas twice, or three times; occasionally even a fourth time. He may do that over the course of a decade, or even longer. As early as 1972, the famous Los Angeles collector Stephen Longstreet noticed this obsession and compared Harry Carmean to the great Japanese printmaker, Hokusai, who signed himself "Old-Man-Mad-About-Drawing."



Carmean has not limited himself to drawing and painting. His studios are always filled with his etchings and engravings and a number of pastels. He has produced shelf upon shelf of sculpture. But his most substantive works are his canvases.

Harry Carmean is a realist painter. Nearly all of his paintings have people involved in identifiable activites or recognizable positions. All of his figurative canvases are assembled with an intimate knowledge of human anatomy. His figures flow easily from his brush, as if without any effort on his part. In even his most complicated compostions, with numerous figures, there is an ease to the construction. It is this ease that leaves the viewer entirely focused on the subject and story of Carmean's canvases.

The canvases tell the story of a highly trained artist whose love for the human form has never wavered. Over the years, Carmean's classical themes and modern brushwork have given life to literally hundreds of beautiful characters. He paints the whole spectrum of humanity, from musicians in cafes, to acrobats, to dancers, to families, to lovers, to nudes at play in sylvan settings.

III. CHRONOLOGY

  • 1922 Born in Anthony, Kansas
  • 1923 Moved to California
  • 1936 Began producing Portraits
  • 1940 Courses in Art and Music at ???
  • 1941 Received award in Poster Contest at ???
  • 1942 Entered World War II in U.S. Army
  • 1944 Trobridge, England Red Cross - Solo Exhibition
  • 1945 L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, France
  • 1946 Returned to Los Angeles for career as singer
  • 1946 Completed first studio
  • 1947 Enters Art Center under Lorser Fietelson, Los Angeles
  • 1948 Exhibits at Los Angeles Art Association
  • 1948 Orange Show in San Bernardino, CA
  • 1949 Flower Show, Orange County, CA
  • 1949 Founded Ardmore Group
  • 1950 California Color Society "Eight California Painters"; Los Angeles Art Association Membership & Exhibition
  • 1951 Palos Verdes Community Art Association; Los Angeles Art Association's "Artists You Should Know"
  • 1952 Joins staff at Los Angeles Art Center
  • 1953 Chaffey community Art Association, Ontario, CA
  • 1954 Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Employed Walt Disney Studios; Santa Monica Art Gallery "Southern California Artists"
  • 1954 Joins Feitelson, Lundeburg and De Erderly on LA Art Association panel
  • 1955 Madonna Festiva, Wilshire Ebel, LA, CA; Festival of The Arts, Laguna, CA
  • 1956 Festival of the Arts, Laguna, CA; Functionalist West, LA Art Association,
  • 1957 Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Chaffey Community Art Association; Chapman College; Chaffey College; Downey Museum of Art; LA Art Association; Mc Ney Galleries, ??, TX
  • 1959 Orange County Art Association
  • 1960 Palos Verdes Art Association; Long Beach Museum of Art, "Arts of Southern California - Drawing,"; Two traveling exhibitions for Western Association of Art Museum - Seattle, WA.
  • 1961 Eastern Circuit, Traveling Exhibit, Chapman College, Orange, CA; Dallas Public Library, Dallas, TX; Everhart Museum, Scranton, PA; Wuston Museum of FineRacine, WI Art; Columbia Museum of Fine, Columbia, SC Art; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA


  • SIX ACROBATS WITH BALLERINAS IN BLUE IN BACKGROUND
    1988
    36" x 36"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: The Art of Love" at Sullivan Goss, 2003 and the LA ART SHOW, 2002

    Ten figures fill the square, and yet the composition seems natural. Carmean remembers a backstage area with a modestly sized yellow box. One of the acrobats was able to squeeze himself into the box. Carmean, likewise, challenged himself to get all of his backstage.

    IV. EXHIBITIONS (selected list)

  • 1961 Micheal Thomas Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA
  • 1962 Marymount College, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1962 Orange County At Association
  • 1964 Fullerton Art Association, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1970 Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1974 Seventh Street Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1975 Seventh Street Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1976 Seventh Street Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1976 Moody Gallery, Pasadena, CA
  • 1977 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
  • 1977 Seventh Street, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1978 Moody Gallery, Pasadena, CA
  • 1984 Dan Turk Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1987 N.W. Ayer, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1988 Nebera Gallery, Denver, CO
  • 1989 Nebera Gallery, Denver, CO
  • 1989 Irvine Valley College, Irvine, CA
  • 1990 Irvine Valley College, Irvine, CA
  • 1999 Chrysanthou, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2001 Karpeles Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2002 "The Art of Love" Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2004 "The Moment Before the Moment" Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2005 "In the Flesh" Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2006 "Masters, Mentors and Metamorphosis" Fullerton College Art Museum, Fullerton, CA
  • V. Themes



    FAMILY SCENES

    ATTENDING CHILDREN
    1962
    32" x 36"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: The Moment Before the Moment" at Sullivan Goss, 2004 and Seventh Street Gallery, 1975.


    POST-SURREAL (SUBJECTIVE CLASSICIST)

    The Artist
    1979
    40" x 36"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: In the Flesh" at Sullivan Goss, 2005.

    Harry Carmean wouldn't classify any of his work as post-surreal. Nevertheless, a very few works seem to resonate with the ideas put forth by Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson in their manifesto for "Subjective Classicism." This painting was created in memory of Carmean's friend and mentor, Lorser Feitelson, who died the same year this was painted.



    PORTRAITURE

    Self Portrait
    1958
    22" x 15"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: The Moment Before the Moment" at Sullivan Goss, 2004.
    Private Collection

    Carmean rarely undertakes a portrait. Searching to create timeless work, the artist rarely takes on specific faces. The artis's facility for painting them is shown here to spectacular effect in an exceptionally rare work.



    CAFÉ SCENES

    Baroque Café Scene
    2005
    30" x 32"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: In the Flesh" at Sullivan Goss, 2005.

    This painting treats one of his favorite themes, musicians in a café. Before deciding on a career in fine art, Harry Carmean was a professional singer.



    DANCERS

    Pas De Deux
    1991
    28" x 30"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: The Art of Love" at Sullivan Goss, 2003.
    Private Collection

    Sharing Degas' affinity for the painterly opportunities offered by stagelighting and the diaphanous tutus of ballerinas, Carmean has treated dancers continuously over his entire career.



    NUDES / BATHERS

    Nudes By Water
    1960
    12" x 20"
    Oil on canvas
    Exhibited in "Harry Carmean: In the Flesh" at Sullivan Goss, 2005.
    Private Collection

    Carmean has painted the nude, and, in particular, the bather, more than any other human form. From nudes stretched out on promontories, to bathers in bucolic settings, Carmean's depictions of nude bodies at rest and at play continually delight critics and public alike. The timelessness of the theme remains fresh under the artist's brush.