Nicolas Carone: Artist, Teacher

Robert Sievert

Nicolas Carone: "Mourning Sleep"

Nicolas Carone: "New York, Mon Amour"

Nicolas Carone: "Manicomio"

I found Nicolas Carone to be a wonderful, charismatic, inspiring teacher. He was able to focus on students and their work and relate them and their work to higher thought. He often spoke of image as a metaphor and painting in other poetic terms.

I think his success with his teaching came from his brilliance as an artist. His work was informed by several mainstream art currents: the classical tradition and the powerful Hofmann technique. He was a master of them both.

I remember a very strong show of his paintings in 1961 at the Staempfli Gallery on Madison Ave. The canvases were slathered in rich coatings of deep purples and maroons with accents of orange and yellow. The visual excitement of his gestures gave the work its Abstract Expressionist signature. At the same time the forms and lines of the work were clearly based on a devotion to classical idealism.

I still cannot understand why this work did not catapult him to the forefront of the art world.

Later I was perusing the Hirshhorn collection in Washington DC and came upon a Carone painting. This time it was small and modest in size. It was a head, bright red and to me the most powerful work in the gallery it hung in. The head was puppet like, close to a Giacometti, but it had both a fiery presence and a classical rendering.

Well, it's never too late. With Abstract Expressionism at its height in market value, can a Carone revival be far off? At last meeting he was still working in his studio in Westbeth and running an art school in Umbria, Italy. I remember his fondness for paper from this region.