The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South

by - June 01, 2013

The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South at the Brooks Museum opens to members June 7 and to the public June 8. Works will be on display through September 15. 

An exhibition organized by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Arkansas Arts Center
Curated by Stanton Thomas, Curator of European and Decorative Art at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the exhibition will feature works from major public collections as well as rarely seen pictures still in private hands.

The paintings of Carroll Cloar (1913-1993), rank among the most haunting and beautiful evocations ever made of the American South. Drawing upon family stories, photographs of ancestors, rural scenery, small town life, and memories of his childhood on an Arkansas farm, Cloar captured the quiet richness of a simpler world. At the same time, his images of abandoned buildings, wild panthers, or ghostly figures hint at the darker, more dangerous side of human existence. Many of Cloar’s works—such as Autumn Conversionor Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog—have an achingly familiar quality, suggesting our own family histories or childhood recollections. 

Cloar’s complex style pays homage not only to the great American Realist masters and the pointillism of the Post Impressionists, but blends these elements smoothly with the subtly disturbing images and themes of the Surrealists.  His paintings, with their saturated colors, repeating patterns, and shallow picture planes, offer a unique and timeless vision of the American South. Marking the centenary of the artist’s birth, The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South will include approximately seventy paintings, ranging from early Realist masterpieces to the poignant pictures of his later career. 

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