Bert Carpenter: Persistence of Realism

by Sam Yates



Editha Carpenter, a free-lance curator now living in France, writes about these works by her father, ''Following the small figurative scenes, the major innovation of the 'Hooded' series is the introduction of the figure on a life-size scale so that we can no longer merely speak of presence, but also of identity. This amplification is achieved through a paring down of technical means (fewer elements, little or no color, shadowless empty backgrounds)." [3]

During the 1990's, Carpenter's figurative and still life works have continued to extend the possibilities of realism to engage the viewer in "...situations of heightened sensory awareness." The 1998 still life paintings, Conversation (below) and From Head To Toe (p. 95), are comprised of tactile elements found in previous works and exemplify a new allegorical mode.

In addition to his distinguished artistic career, Carpenter has diligently worked to increase the public's awareness of the visual arts. In Utah, he co-founded the Art Barn School of Art; in Hawaii, the Hawaii Artists League; and in North Carolina, he shepherded the development of the Weatherspoon Art Gallery to a position of national prominence and stature. He believes that art serves as a unifying process by which one can understand human consciousness and he believes that creativity, as evidence of human experience, can culminate in a powerful, cultural force. Representatives of the art, academic, and civic communities have responded to his unselfish leadership. He openly invited their participation and sought their input in the shared goal of making a better community, a community in which the visual arts played a vital role. As he once stated, ''Art is important to the orderly progress of civilization. "

Of all Bert Carpenter's notable contributions, none has been more important than his achievement as an innovative and prolific artist. While accepting the challenge of contemporary art, he has also expanded the boundaries of realism.



1. Biographical material and artist's quotes are from a series of recorded and unrecorded interviews by the author with Bert Carpenter from October 1997 through November 1998. Further quotes or biographical references not individually cited in the author's remaining text or on the title page for each section of reproduced works are from the same interviews unless otherwise referenced.

2. Jean Charlot, An Artist on Art: Collected Essays of Jean Charlot, University Press of Hawaii, 1972, p.121.

3. Editha Carpenter, A letter to her father, Paris, May, 1998.


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