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Avery Galleries

Arthur B. Carles

Flowers in a Yellow Vase

35 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches (90.2 x 80 cm)


The Philadelphia modernist Arthur B. Carles was a brilliant colorist and an extraordinarily innovative painter. Though Carles trained initially at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, soaking up the more conservative teaching of William Merritt Chase and Thomas Anshutz, he was deeply influenced by the avant-garde art scene in Paris during his first trip there in 1905. In 1907, Carles won the prestigious Cresson Traveling Scholarship, which enabled him to return to Paris for several more years. This experience had a profound impact on Carles as an artist; he was extremely affected by modern French painting, especially the work of Cezanne and Matisse, and by the time Carles returned home to Philadelphia in 1912, he was a confirmed modernist.

Of all the subjects which Carles explored throughout his career, still life painting provided him with the best outlet for his experimentations with pure color and form, and ultimately, it facilitated his leap into total abstraction during the 1930s. Carles had a deep affinity for still life, especially floral still lifes, and he helped to revive interest in this subject in Philadelphia and beyond, preceding other modernists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, who also began to concentrate on flower forms around this time. For Carles, this subject seemed to capture a sense of delight in the beauty and “livingness” of things, and it continued to be an on-going source of inspiration for him throughout his life.