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 Nicolas Carone  (1917 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: abstract figurative painting, sculpture

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Nicolas Carone
An example of work by Nicolas Carone
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter and sculptor whose style is non-objective*, Nicolas Carone was born in New York City to Italian parents who emigrated to New York where Carone was born on the East Side.  When he was five years old, they moved to Hoboken, New Jersey where he spent the remainder of his childhood.  His family remained in that home, which he later described as being like a salon with many art and music oriented guests.  All of this activity was encouraged by his mother, but the father, a "stevedore", had little interest in the discussions although he loved having the people around.

At age eleven, he began art study, attending the night school of the Leonardo da Vinci Art School.*  Also there but older than Carone were future well-known artists Isamu Noguchi, Peter Agostini, George Spaventa, and Conrad Marca-Relli.  Carone was encouraged to study art by his parents, especially his mother who loved the Renaissance sculptors such as Michelangelo.

He had two brothers and three sisters, and his brother, Matthew Carone, became an artist in Florida, and his sister, Janice, became a concert pianist.  He also studied music and played the violin for eight years.  At age fourteen, he persuaded his parents that he should quit high school so that he could go to art school.  He started attending the National Academy of Design*where his teachers were Leon Kroll, Charles Curran and Saul Olinsky.

He also had a scholarship at the Art Students League* with sculptor Arthur Lee. Leon Kroll was the artist he admired the most because he "was more liberal and modern.  He had a very broad point of view.  He was a big influence in my life, by the way. . .He was like a godfather." (Cummings). He worked as an assistant to Kroll on a mural in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Worcester Memorial Auditorium.  It was a dedication to the Unknown Soldier of the war of 1917.  The project, 31 feet high and 57 feet long, took three and a half years, from 1939 to 1942.

He enlisted in the Air Force during World War II and was stationed in New York City and then Long Island and worked in drafting doing architectural drawings and table maps.  During this time, he studied with Hans Hoffman, both at his New York School and at Provincetown.  Although he did not like Hoffman's Abstract Expressionist* paintings, he admired him tremendously as a teacher, one of the reasons being that Hoffman was flexible and encouraged his students to find their own style.  He also opened the door for Carone to many European modernist movements.

After the war, in 1945, Carone went to Rome, Italy for three and a half years. He had won the Prix de Rome Prize* , which was given to him as a cash award. While in Italy, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.  In Italy, he formed close friendships with Mark Rothko, who had a studio next door to his and to Roberto Matta.

Returning to New York City, he worked at the Stable Gallery as an assistant and also exhibited his work.  He divorced and remarried and lived in East Hampton on Long Island for about seven years, and then moved back to New York City.  From the time of his return from Italy to New York, his own career of creating abstract sculpture and figurative painting took off.  He had solo exhibitions at Frumkin Gallery, Stable Gallery, and Staempfli Gallery, and was in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Rome, the Brussels World's Fair, the Venice Biennale*, the Tate Gallery, and the Geitain Group in Japan.

Additional awards were William Copley Grant and the Childe Hassam Grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters*.  He taught at universities including Yale, Columbia, Brandeis, and Cornell, and at Cooper Union*, School of Visual Arts*, and Skowhegan School* and was a founding faculty member of the New York Studio School, where he taught for more than 20 years.

Paul Cummings, Interview with Nicolas Carone, May 1968, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Oral History
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

by Robert Smith, The New York Times, July 29, 2010,

Nicolas Carone, one of the last surviving Abstract Expressionist painters, died on July 15 at his home in Hudson, N.Y. He was 93.  His death was confirmed by the Washburn Gallery on West 57th Street in Manhattan. At his death the gallery had been exhibiting his canvases from the 1950s; the work is on view through Friday.

Mr. Carone was present at the beginning of the New York School and friends with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Lee Krasner. But his best work may have come long after the style faded, in the large paintings in shades of black, white and gray that he made during the last two or three decades of his life. The shifting lines and layered brushwork of these works most completely integrated the classical figurative tradition he absorbed during his earliest art studies and the instinctive painting processes of Abstract Expressionism.

Mr. Carone was born in June 4, 1917, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the eldest of seven children of Italian immigrants. He grew up in Hoboken, N.J., where his father was a bartender, and began drawing at age 4. When he was around 11, his mother sent him to the Leonardo da Vinci Art School on East 10th Street in Manhattan, which offered instruction for a small tuition.

After high school he studied art at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League and finally at Hans Hoffmann's school.  Between 1947 and 1951 he lived in Italy, partly on a Fulbright fellowship.

Mr. Carone had his first solo exhibition in Rome in 1949 and his first New York show at the Stable Gallery in 1954. During the next decade he showed at Stable and then at the Staempfli Gallery in New York; participated in numerous museum surveys of contemporary paintings (including two Whitney Museum annuals); and exhibited in the Venice Biennale. His works were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney and the Guggenheim.

But in the early 1960s his career was eclipsed by Pop Art and Minimalism. He effectively withdrew from the New York gallery world for 40 years but continued working in several mediums and styles.

In 1964 he joined the founding faculty of the New York Studio School, where he taught drawing for nearly 25 years. He also taught at Columbia University, Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. In the 1970s he bought a house in Doglio, a town in Umbrian region of Italy, and in 1988 he founded an art school there, which he ran for 10 years. He also had a home in Manhattan.

In 2005 Ro Lohin, a former student of Mr. Carone's, persuaded him to have a show of drawings at the Lohin Geduld Gallery, which she and a partner had just opened in Chelsea. It was his first solo show in a New York gallery since 1962. Two years later the gallery exhibited his sculptures, carved from fieldstones he found on his property in Italy.

In 2008 and 2009 he showed recent abstractions with Washburn.

For several decades Mr. Carone also painted what Ms. Lohin described as "imaginary portraits" — portraits of people who do not exist — which have rarely been exhibited.

Mr. Carone was married and divorced twice. He is survived by his sons, David Hart of Fort Wayne, Ind., from his marriage to Nell Mager, and by Claude Carone of Claverack, N.Y., and Christian Carone of Brooklyn, from his marriage to Adele Bishop; and a grandson.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Nicolas Carone is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Abstract Expressionism

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