Arthur B. Carles

Arthur Beecher Carles

American INSIGHT’s award-winning documentary . . .

Arthur B. Carles: Philadelphia Artist is a 50 minute documentary that examines the virtuosity of a seminal artist whose career captured the very essence of artistic freedom at the height of Philadelphia’s cultural legacy during the first part of the twentieth century.

Arthur B. Carles: Philadelphia Artist was brought to you by American INSIGHT’s Internship Program. By developing real-life and virtual communities among students, citizens, scholars, educators, and the general public American INSIGHT creates dialogues about Free Speech.

Born the son of a lower middle class watchmaker, Arthur Beecher Carles (1882-1952) soon numbered among his friends collector Alfred Barnes, Alfred Stieglitz, John Marin, Gertrude Stein in Paris and scores of Philadelphia aristocrats. His social acumen, courage, intelligence and artistic virtuosity eventually succeeded in opening the stifling doors of academe to the exotic flood of French Impressionism, and later, laid the groundwork for the New York School of Abstract Expressionism.

Arthur Beecher CarlesA highly gifted artist who knew no intellectual boundaries, Carles was a painter whose works reflect the birth pangs of modernism in America. His electrifying canvases sparked innovations in the American art world by bringing fresh ideas from Paris to conservative turn of the century Philadelphia. “Arthur B. Carles: Philadelphia Artist explores one of the most creative eras in Philadelphia’s history,” says Founder Margaret Chew Barringer. “Over 200 individuals and institutions have been involved in bringing Carles’ story back to life.”

On-camera interviews include Anne d’Harnoncourt (Director/CEO Philadelphia Museum of Art, deceased); Edmund Bacon (City Planner, deceased); Dr. Perry Ottenberg (Carles collector); Mary Ann Meyers (writer, Senior Fellow, John Templeton Foundation); and Dr. Barbara Wolanin (Carles scholar).

Poetry readings occur throughout the film by Carles’ contemporaries Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams. Archival photographs, film clips and footage of locations important to Carles’ life also provide the backdrop from readings from Carles’ own letters. Philadelphia composer Eric Sessler’s original and witty music enhances this exploration of Arthur Carles’ brilliant canvases as they explode on the television screen, electrifying, emotional and gorgeous in all their Abstract Expressionist glory.

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