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 George A. Carlson  (1940 - )

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Lived/Active: Idaho/Illinois/Colorado      Known for: landscape painting, sculpture and drawing

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Ad Code: 2
George Arthur Carlson
from Auction House Records.
Courtship Flight
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
George Carlson creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional art saying, "Both are necessary to the perfection of my art.I really believe in learning the basics of your craft, which for an artist is drawing.Initially I started sculpting because I thought it would help my drawing. I grew convinced that if I knew what the other side of a man's head looked like, I could draw him better.Sculpture is drawing from all possible angles and you have to know how to draw well before you can sculpt completely."

He was born in Elmhurst, Illinois on July 3, 1940. At an early age his parents recognized his talent for drawing and encouraged its development. After graduating from high school he studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

At age twenty, Carlson began working as a commercial artist and attended classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. After five years he left the commercial art world. His interest was in the American West for which he headed. For the first year he painted and sculpted in Taos, New Mexico.

In 1966 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he studied sculpture and anthropology at the University of Arizona. He moved again, after one year, to Denver, Colorado, and began exhibiting his work in galleries. Since then Carlson has built a national reputation for himself as a sculptor.

Between 1973 and 1975 Carlson traveled to Mexico several times. Five hundred miles south of El Paso in the Sierra Madre Indians, he found the Tarahumara Indians. His interests in anthropology and primitive cultures made his encounters more meaningful. It is with these people that Carlson has done his best-known works. He was allowed to observe, record, and partake in the daily rituals of these people while still in isolation, before they were brought unknowingly into the fold of modern humanity.

Carlson has won numerous awards for both his sculpture and his painting, including the Prix de West and several Gold Medals from the National Academy of Western Art in Oklahoma City. He has also had several important solo exhibitions, including an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and major retrospective at the Indianapolis Museum of Fine Art. George Carlson currently lives in Northern Idaho were he continues to work.

Source: Thomas Nygard Gallery

Biography from American Legacy Fine Arts:
Renowned American artist George Carlson was born in Elmhurst, Illinois on July 3, 1940.  His skill and vision brought him success early in his career.  In 1974 he submitted the sculpture Eagle Catcher to the National Academy of Western Art and won a gold medal.  The next year, he won the “Prix de West” award for Courtship Flight, being the youngest winner of that award in its history.  Five gold and three silver medals have followed from the National Academy as well as membership in that prestigious organization.  Carlson earned the honor of membership in the National Sculpture Society in 1981 and was elected a fellow in 1989. 

Part of this success is due to his personal attachment to his work.  He shepards his work beyond creation, being intricately involved with the casting of the bronze and even performs the final detail work himself.  Carlson studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Arizona.  He has held solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural History, Indianapolis Museum of Fine Art, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage and the Southwest Museum.  His work is included in major public and private collections in the country, and two retrospectives are currently being planned. The first will open in June 2005 at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, and in 2007 the Denver Art Museum will showcase Carlson’s work as the premier exhibition for the new wing designed by Daniel Libeskind, architect of the new World Trade Center.

Internationally, his work has been featured at the Hakone Open Air Museum in Tokyo; Amerika Haus in Berlin; Central House of Artists in Moscow; Kyoto World Exposition of Historic Cities in Japan; and the Peking Exhibit in Beijing, China. Among his monumental outdoor sculptures are The Greeting, Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis; Paul Robeson, Central Sate University, Wilberforce, Ohio; I’m the Drum, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; Of One Heart, Outdoor Museum of Art, Englewood, Colorado; Early Day Miner, Washington Park, Denver; and Hopi Girls, New Mexico Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe.

Carlson is also frequently commissioned for both private and corporate works.  Actor Bill Cosby commissioned four portrait busts.  In 1994 the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, commissioned a bust of artist Bob Kuhn, which was unveiled in September 1996. 

The recipient of numerous honors, Carlson received the Idaho Governor’s Award of Excellence in the Arts in 1996.  Most recently in 2005 his monumental bronze The Conqueror was presented with two awards, the Autry National Center’s John J. Geraghty Award in recognition of Carlson’s outstanding support of contemporary Western art; and the Museum of the American West’s Masters of the American West Award, an acquisition prize to include The Conqueror in the museum’s permanent collection.

The University of Idaho honored Carlson at its 1999 commencement with an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts degree.  Carlson has been profiled in many books and other publications including the PBS film series entitled Profiles in American Art. Carlson, who lives in Idaho, is an Out-of-State Artist Member of the California Art Club.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
A sculptor of figures in bronze, and painter, especially of Tarahumara Indians, George Carlson was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, in 1940 and has been living in Franktown, Colorado.

“I started sculpting,” he discloses, “because I thought it’d help my drawing. I grew convinced that if I knew what the other side of a man’s head looked like, I could draw him better. From the first touch, sculpting has proved to be the most exhilarating experience of my life.”

He was drawing seriously at seven and studied at the American Academy of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, and the University of Arizona, although he never stayed long enough to be influenced in style. After trying commercial art and finding that “slickness was choking off my creative ability,” he moved to Taos and lived with painter Buffalo Kaplinski. For two years, he refrained from painting to flush out his commercial experience. He listened to the Indians and “was determined that my art would show the Indian’s harmony with nature, not his savagery.”

“I keep working towards the simplest style, the least number of statements needed in a work. I do whatever is necessary to get down the essence of a subject. Abstract shapes are foremost in my mind when I’m designing, but when the basics are neglected, freedom of expression is lost. An artist should at least understand muscle masses and think of these masses as designs.”

Carlson is a member of National Academy of Western Art, won its Prix de West in 1975, was featured in "Southwest Art", October 1976, and "Artists of the Rockies", summer 1980.

"Contemporary Western Artists", by Peggy and Harold Samuels,1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C.

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