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Caroll Cloar

Caroll Cloar

(1913-1993) lived in Memphis in Shelby County
Aunt Rhody, 1967
acrylic on Masonite, 29.75 x 42 x 28 inches, 80.84

Cloar was a nationally known painter who focused his work on surreal views portraying childhood memories of natural scenery, buildings, and people, often working from old photographs found in his family albums. Cloar employed pointillism in his painting style, creating over 800 works in his lifetime. He moved to Memphis in 1930, majoring in English at Southwestern at Memphis College (later known as Rhodes College) as an English major. He traveled through Europe before returning to Memphis to study at Memphis College of Art. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1936 to 1940 when a McDowell Traveling Fellowship allowed Cloar to travel throughout the western United States and Mexico. He then joined the Army Air Corps. For a stipend, he would paint pin-up girls on the noses of bombers. Cloar continued to travel and visited Mexico on a 1946 Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1948 Life magazine wrote an article on him, titled Backwoods Boyhood and featured his lithographs, gaining him national fame. He traveled around Central and South America until 1950 and then returned to Memphis in 1955. Cloar’s works can be found at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, AR; the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Crittenden County Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Library of Congress, Chase Manhattan Bank, the Whitney Museum, and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis. Today, the Memphis Brooks Museum holds one of the largest collections of Cloar’s works and created a gallery dedicated to his art.

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