Carl Holty (American 1900-1973) was an American abstract artist raised in Wisconsin. Holty was born in Germany and brought to the United States as an infant where he was raised by his parents in German communities in Milwaukee and Green Bay. Holty studied to be an artist at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Ill., and the National Academy of Design in New York before returning to Wisconsin determined to establish himself as a portrait artist. Back in Wisconsin Holty met and married his first wife. The two planned an extended honeymoon in Munich where Holty intended to study at the prestigious Royal Academy in Munich, Germany. En route to Munich Holty had a chance encounter with friend and fellow artist Vaclav Vytlacil who convinced Holty to enroll in Hans Hofmann’s art school instead. Holty and his wife settled in Munich where Holty did enrolled in the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art. Working with Hofmann, Holty was exposed to modern thoughts on space, form and color, which would greatly influence Holty’s work, directing it more toward abstraction. Holty’s wife contracted tuberculosis and the two moved to Switzerland for treatment, but soon after Holty’s wife died of complications from TB. Desiring a change Holty traveled Europe and North Africa before settling in Paris in 1930. In Paris Holty became entrenched in the thriving art scene where forward-thinking modernist eagerly shared ideas in cafes, galleries and other meeting places. While working in Paris, Holty became with friends with Robert and Sonia Delaunay and join their group, Abstration-Création. Here Holty had his works published in the group’s magazine, where it was quickly associated with cubism and neo plasticism. In 1935 Holty returned to the US, moving to New York where he was immediately immersed in the blossoming modern art scene. In New York Holty reconnected with Hans Hofmann, who had himself just arrived in the city, and with other important modernist Stuart Davis and Vaclav Vytlacil whom Holty had known in Paris. With Vytlacil, Holty helped form the American Abstract Artists group, which Holty did eventually come to chair, and remained a member of until 1944. During this time Holty moved away from cubism and more toward biomorphism, still focusing heavily on forms, shapes and color. In the 1930s Holty used tape to establish clean lines for forms in his works, and reworked paintings numerous times, often painting over previously painted areas. Later in Holty’s life the shapes, forms and colors that had dominated his early works began to soften. By the 1960s Holty was painting in more of an abstract expressionist style using far more muted colors.
During his lifetime Holty was not only a highly regarded exhibiting artist, he also took time to educate others, teaching at the Arts Students League in New York for two years and at Brooklyn College for six years, as well as serving as an artist in residence at Georgia State University, the University of Florida, UC Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, and the Corcoran School of Art.
This work was created during the period when Holty was using more muted colors and subtle forms. In this work Holty mixes predominantly grayish blues and whites with small splashes of bright reds and oranges to create a moody and brewing non-objective abstract expressionist painting.
Measures 30″ x 40″ x 1.25″ overall. (unframed)