Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, PA, “Carlsen Has Exhibition”, Sunday, July 1, 1923, Page 56, illustrated: B&W
Art Society Summer Show Plans Progressing.
CARLSEN HAS EXHIBITION
By Penelope Redd
Considerable attention has been given during the past week to the dedication of the portrait of Stephen C. Foster at Bardstown, KY, on July 4, but so far credit has not been given to Martin Leisbe Pittsburgh’s gift to the memorial. This omission is typical of our times. Some time ago this question was discussed at length in this column. The majority of our monuments and memorial paintings are anonymous to the general public. Memorial committees and civic bodies might be a bit generous to the artists who give them the visual reason for ceremony.
The Art Society reports that the scheme for the Pittsburgh show has met with enthusiasm and many collectos have assented to leans for the summer show in Gallery I of Carnegie Institute. The date of the opening will be announced later, but it will be sometime before the middle of July.
The Carlsen exibition comprising 66 paintings, is now on view at the Carnegie Institute through August. The group will be changed from its present habitat, when it is to be hoped the small paintings will be arranged in groups rather than strung out in monotonous emphasis as they are now in Gallery I. Emil Carlsen is obviously an artificer, but withal such a master one that admiration is his just due. He makes snapshots of infinity. Infinity manifests itself to him through many mediums. His two frequent and direct observations on infinity are through landscape and the sea. His indirect ones are through his studies of antique porcelains.
The power of Carlsen is seen in his manipulation of a composition which may appear to have little other than abstract color, yet his skill produces an impressive scale whether the painting be a thumb box sketch or an exhibition canvas. This may be seen in the Sky Study, No. 62, which is almost a miniature and in No. 17, “O ye of Little Faith,” which is a very large canvas.
Indeed, from the standpoint of composition, Carlsen is best in the paintings of sea and sjy that are almost abstract color. This is particularly apparent in No. 3, “The Garden,” which shows Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the marine, “O Ye of Little Faith,” Carlsen succeeds in conveying the strength of belief in the small figure of Christ walking unharmed on the vast waters of doubt. It is an emanation rather than a visualization of an idea. In the painting of Christ in the garden, however, he fails to design his idea. There are beautiful passages of color for in the purity of celestial blues more can excell Clarsen, but the whole “falls short of compelling expression because of lack of coherence in the design. Carlsen’s landscapes are too often lacking in this sensibility to the significance of design.
When, however, he composes still life he arranges his objects with an eye to the increase of their import as elements in the ultimate unity he accomplishes. He evidently selects tricky problems with relish, as in his No. 65, “The Black Bottle.” He truly makes the black bottle, the painting of which is the climax of quinces, porcelain and brass, as alluring as the climax of a symphony.
Two other rare paintings by Carlsen are “The Rhages Jar” and “The Picture from Thibet.” The former is as flawless as porcelain and celebrates the work of a craftsman even more consummate than the ancient potter. The latter painting, also a tribute to remote masters, is not surpassed in any painting of our day. Carlsen has shown the utlitity of beauty which has increased with the use of centuries in the ghosts of rose and blue and orange in this picture.
One of the personal notes in this exhibition so remote from the turmoil of the day is the recurrence of studies of Dines. Dines is Emil Carlsen’s young son. He exhibits portraits of his son painted in 1911, 1912, 1913and 1916. In the one painted in 1913, Carlsen makes a finely composed painting, with a ravishing detail in the study of a Japanese print hanging on the wall. Emil Carlsen has made Dines Carlsen, one of the prodigies in this country. Since a painter is fortunately free of a direct personal contact with the public, few know of the precocious Dines. Although not yet 21 years old, Dines has exhibited in the Carnegie International not only this last season but for a number of years. He was, I believe, 15 years old when his first painting was hung in the National Academy of Design in New York. His father gave him a paint brush, as other children are given blocks.
It is necessary to be acquainted with the aredent enthusiasm of Emil Carlsen for painting to appreciate the devotion he gave to his son’s education. The boy did not go to public school but was educated privately, was shown the best paintings in public and private collections and encouraged in every way to express his ideas through painting.
Emil Carlsen is supreme in still life painting. Of most forms of painting, one could not dare an opinion without qualification. Still life painting, however, is different since there have been thousands of tyros and less than a score of masters.
Carlsen vitalizes his still life paintings. He is the jewel master of modern American painting and has much to offer in the way of calm for the visitor.
Miss Leila Mechlin, editor of the ‘American Magazine of Art,” who has written a charming appreciation of Carlsen’s work as the introduction to the catalogue, says in part: “If one were asked to characterize the art of Emil Carlsen by a single word, that world would probably be ‘reticent.’ For whether he paints marines, portraits or still life, his work is invariably distinguished by this, today, rather rare quality. it does not shout its message, nor does it declare it through spectacular effect. To the contrary it is quite in tone, beautifully restrained, exquisitely finished.
“Emil Carlsen is a master craftsman. He commands his medium, and he has the capacity of a genius for taking pains. Every picture he paints is rendered with infinite care and measures, as far as he can make it the limit of his ability. Never to him is a work good eough. Because he is so expert a painter he keenly enjoys painting, and without exception this pleasure in production finds expression in his work, and yet there are few outstanding painters of the present time who so skillfully conceal their art. In Mr. Carlsen’s pictures technique never intrudes. The painter’s cleverness is not forced upon the observer. Instead the beauty of the made manifest. This is first and last subject and its profound significance are and always the message Mr. Carlsen’s paintings convey. Even when they are of commonplace objects-pand and jugs and onions or the like-they are beautiful, setting forth lovely nuances of color, delicately adjusted relations of light and shade, wonderful surface textures exquisitely rendered. And with all, his is a virile painter. His are while studied and reserved is in the best sense robust, positive.”
Emil Carlsen has celebrated the craftship of all nations and all ages in his still life paintings. “The Carved Panel” shows a Sicilian wood carving, combined with rare Chinese porcelain, in “a still life of consummate skill The “Portrait of Dines” represents the son of the painter. Dines Carlsen is a prodigy in painting. Although his is only 21 years old now he has already exhibited in all of the importrant National exhibitions, including the recent Carnegie international.
WORKS OF EMIL CARLSEN