Throughout a career spanning more than five decades, the artist Carl Holty investigated the evolving language of 20th-century modernist movements. He progressively moved from realism to cubism and finally into abstraction. His teachers and friends Hans Hofmann, Piet Mondrian, Stuart Davis and Mark Rothko were among the masters of his era. Romare Bearden, who co-authored a book with Holty, delivered the eulogy at his funeral in 1973. One of his oldest friends was Howard Thomas, whose recommendation brought Holty to the University of Georgia as artist in residence from 1948 to 1950.
This exhibition of paintings and drawings reflects Holty’s personal pursuit of modern art theory, much of which focused on color as one of his essential building blocks. Through the years, we see the artist first use color as a structural matrix and later as pure atmospheric ground. His personal writings and recurring visual themes of bathers, nature, horses and riders reveal an artist driven by a romantic ideal, an attitude perhaps reflective of an earlier time. Still, at its core, Holty’s work is truly evocative of 20th-century American modernism.