New-York Tribune, New York, NY, “Old Works by Jongkind And New Ones by Carlsen”, Sunday, February 13, 1921, page 7, illustrated: b&w on page 7
His Work in Landscape, Sea Painting and Still Life
For the first time in many years Mr. Emil Carlsen has an exhibition all to himself, one at the Macbeth gallery in which he presents fifteen of his pictures. These include, naturally, several of the studies of still life which from the beginning of his career have been expected from him as a matter of course. For a long time, indeed, he was known in no other branch of art. He came into view as a man with a rare gift for the portrayal of inanimate objects, and, by the same token, the
painter of beautiful surfaces. Inevitably, as he has gone on with still life, he has made his paintings of it more complex in the harmonization of values. The Picture From Tibet, with its richly decorative background, is an illustration of his later tendency. The web of rose, ivory and gold in it is a lovely one. Yet we are not sure that Mr. Carlsen is altogether well advised in these more subtle excursions of his. He was nearer to Chardin, in the old days, when his color schemes were simpler and broader; and we think, too, there was a more authoritative touch in his handling of them. The present studies seem a shade over wrought, to be a little too “precious,” and in their extreme refinement to have lost some valuable elements of strength.
The transcripts from nature invite similar reflections. There is very gracious art in them, perhaps too much. Take, for example, the Summer Sea. It is well composed. The great cliff on the left is lifted above the water with a true feeling for design. There is fine color in this, too, especially in the sea. But when he comes to paint the cliff Mr. Carlsen works over his surface with much the same solicitude for tone that he shows in his studies of still life. He gets tone, beautiful tone, but in some strange way loses his grasp upon structure and texture, so that what should be a heroically massive cliff is in no wise impressive. The virtue of nature is squeezed out of it. This remains an interesting piece of painting rather than a powerful expression of nature’s mighty truth. In another big sea piece, The Miraculous Draught, realism is again subdued to the key of a romantic exercise in color. The fishermen in their boat and the tail Christ have no really dramatic significance. All that we feel is the delicate, almost Whistlerian harmony of blues and grays that the artist has achieved. To have achieved that much is something, and there is great charm in Mr. Carlsen’s landscapes, especially In those which suggest the influence of Weir. Whether painted at noon or by moonlight these pictures are poetically luminous. In them all, too, there is a certain engaging personal quality. But over them all there is spread the effect of an inelastic style—a technical method which long addiction to still life no doubt partially explains. The transition from porcelains and metals to the works of nature is not made with absolute success. Mr. Carlsen continues to produce sensuously beautiful surfaces. Even while we respond to their beguiling appeal we find ourselves wishing that his views of landscapes were bigger and freer; that he had broadened his definition of ground, tree and cloud forms.”…
…”[Image Caption] THE MOONSTONE (From the Painting by Emil Carlsen at the Macbeth Gallery)”…
WORKS BY EMIL CARLSEN