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 Pruett Alexander Carter  (1891 - 1955)

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Lived/Active: California/Missouri      Known for: women's magazine illustrator, western painting, educator

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Ad Code: 3
Pruett Alexander Carter
from Auction House Records.
Story illustration: Woman speaking to jockey amount -- Kentucky Derby
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Pruett Carter was an illustrator who worked predominantly for women's magazines and was credited with being one of the few illustrators who was able to keep a creative edge working within in that market.  He did paintings in watercolor and oil, and influenced by his childhood and later a move to California, also did western subjects.

Carter was a highly influential teacher of illustration.  He was dedicated to professional quality of work and attitude by illustrators and asserted they should take themselves very seriously in what he perceived to be a multi-faceted profession. 

He described their role by saying:  "The illustrator may be likened to the director of a motion picture, or a spoken stage-play.  He must know his characters---their emotions and desires---he must  set the stage, and direct the arrangement and action and conflict of drama.  He must live the part of each actor.  He must do the scenery, design the costumes and handle the lighting effects.  His illustration must be deeper than a poster, for he must make his characters live and breathe and react to each other as the author intended." (Reed 213)

His magazine illustrations often depicted flattering portraits of women and highly detailed western themes.  He worked for McCall's and Ladies Home Journal, and was the art director for Good Housekeeping magazine.   Over the years he also had many teaching positions, experiences that provided a solid base for his career as an illustrator.

Carter was born in Lexington, Missouri in 1891, and was raised on an Indian reservation in Wyoming where his mother was a teacher and his father ran a trading post.  So that he could attend highschool, he and his parents moved to Los Angeles.  He became interested in art during high school, especially having met cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton, who encouraged the young man's talents.

Carter then attended the Art Students League in Los Angeles for two years, and was hired for newspaper illustration jobs by William Randolph Hearst on the New York American followed by the Atlanta Georgian.

Carter went on to study under Robert Henri in New York and worked in that city as a commercial illustrator.   He took the job with Good Housekeeping magazine and after that became a freelance illustrator and instructor.  He was an illustration professor at Grand Central School of Art in New York, and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he headed the illustration department.  He had moved back to California in 1930.

While living in the San Fernando Valley with his family, a domestic dispute led to his murdering his wife and son and committing suicide in 1955.

Sources:
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000


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Pruett Carter is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
Illustrators

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