Carroll Cloar is recognized nationally for his paintings and prints of life in the American South. Through a distinctive approach to narrative realism, Cloar’s works engage with the regionalism of Grant Wood, the realism of Edward Hopper, and the mythical whimsy of Henri Rousseau. Cloar was born on a farm in Eastern Arkansas, where a complicated relationship with his family began and continued to compel him creatively. He planned to work as a comic strip illustrator, yet became more interested in lithography and painting after studying at the Art Students League in New York. He drew inspiration from his home and his life in the South, as well his memories and dreams, family stories and photographs, newspapers, memorabilia and American folklore. Throughout extensive cross-country travel, and time spent in Mexico and in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he continued to make art about the South. While he first gained national attention for his work in exhibitions in New York, he moved back to Memphis in 1955 to fully engage his practice and infatuation with his Southern identity. All along Cloar’s lifelong exploration of memory and place, he built new idyllic versions of his past and instilled his viewers with a similar vision.
Born in 1913 in Earle, Arkansas, Carroll Cloar studied at the Memphis Academy of Art and Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College) and at the Art Students League of New York. His work has been the subject of many exhibitions and publications, and he received many commissions and awards throughout his career. He is featured in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, and the Whitney Museum of Art among others.