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 Ben (Benjamin) Carre  (1883 - 1978)

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: movie set design, regional cityscape watercolor painting

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Ad Code: 3
Ben Carre
from Auction House Records.
Behind My Studio
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Luanie K.

Ben Carre was born in Paris in 1883. At the early age of 13, he left school and soon was hired to design and paint sets and back cloths for the PARIS OPERA, the COMEDIE FRANCAISE, and CONVENT GARDEN.

This early training in the theater led to Carre's landing a job as an art director for the prestigious GAUMONT FILM STUDIOS. At this stage in the history of film, studios could not afford props, so everything-including furniture and light fixtures-were merely painted on a background. The art director had to be a master of the trompe l'oeil technique.

Soon after joining Gaumont, Carre began painting all his sets in color. He felt this would stimulate the creativity of the actors, directors, and crew more than the dreary black and white currently used. Soon all studios, both in France and abroad, adopted Carre's innovation.

In 1912, Carre was invited to work at the ECLAIR STUDIOS in New York. Finding conditions in New York too primitive, Carre went to Hollywood in 1919 to work for SAMUEL GOLDWYN.

The 1920's were a period of great activity for Carre -

- He worked for all the major studios including WARNER BROS., METRO, and FOX.

- In 1925 he designed the underground sequences for the Metro-Goldwyn production of "THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA". These eerie chambers influenced the look of many later horror films.

- Carre was also responsible for the art direction on "THE JAZZ SINGER" - the first film with spoken dialogue.

- He was so active and respected in Hollywood that he became a founding member of the ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES.

After designing the set of DANTE'S INFERNO in 1935, Carre accepted a permanent position in the scenic department at MGM, where he was responsible for creating visual effects on such classics as Hitchcock's

He was a long-time associate of the Painters and Sculptors Club of Los Angeles. As the years went by, he did many allegorical and symbolical paintings -recalling the vanished world of Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s.

After his retirement from MGM at the age of 82, Carre remained active in Hollywood.

He was the honored guest at the 1977 TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL. The 1978 Festival was dedicated to Carre who died earlier that year in his Hollywood home.

The film industry has bestowed upon Ben Carre the honor of being the first motion picture art director.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Paris, France, Ben Carre came to the United States in 1912 to head the Art Department of a French film company, Eclair Studios, with a new American branch in New York.  In Paris, he had been a scene painter for the Paris Opera and Comedie Francaise.

He moved to California in 1919, and, until his retirement in 1965, was the Art Director for MGM studies, working on dozens of Hollywood classics including The Jazz Singer.  He was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and active with the Painters and Sculptors Club of Los Angeles.

A long-time resident of Los Angeles, he did many allegorical and symbolical paintings, recalling the vanished world of Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from California Watercolor:
Ben Carré (1883-1978) Born: Paris, France; Member: Painters and Sculptors Club (Los Angeles).  Ben Carré was an art director in the motion picture industry in Hollywood. He came to southern California in 1912 and by the 1930’s was painting and exhibiting watercolors depicting regional cityscape scenes of Los Angeles.

Biographical information:
Scenes of California Life (Catalog)

Biography courtasy of California Watercolors 1850-1970,
©2002 Hillcrest Press, Inc.

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