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Biography

Exhibitions

Carr (1953-2011) was born in Oxford. Took himself out of school at the age of 17 to go to the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts for a year, before going to Cheltenham School of Art (1972-74). Returning to Oxford after art school, he taught art and art history and began a series of life-size drawings of nudes, rejecting the medium of oil paint as a distraction.   An encounter with Andy Warhol, who visited Oxford in 1979, occasioned a move to London and brought him celebrities to sit for his pencil portraits, which would be shown at Robert Fraser’s gallery in 1983. He was highly self-critical, and it is unclear whether this, or the circle he moved in then, led to a descent into a cycle of alcohol and drug addiction, from which he only emerged in the late 1990’s.

After this, he was adamant that he would decline commissions and choose his own subjects and sitters. These were highly eclectic, ranging from portraits of prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs, plangent heads of monkeys, the genitalia of middle-aged golfers, the semi-preserved corpses in the Palermo catacombs, distinguished contemporary English writers, to the circle of friends and acquaintances from the council estate where he had his last studio. Many of the portraits were drawn from long and very close observation of the sitter’s features, but appeared as heads floating against an extensive neutral background. There were also occasional studies from nature; foaming waves, winter branches, birds in flight, a dog on a lead.

Although Robert Fraser had given Carr his first exhibition in 1983, subsequent exhibitions were rare: Wildenstein & Co. in 1993, and Marlborough’s galleries in London (2003 & 2008) and New York (2006).

 

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Biography

Exhibitions

Carr (1953-2011) was born in Oxford. Took himself out of school at the age of 17 to go to the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts for a year, before going to Cheltenham School of Art (1972-74). Returning to Oxford after art school, he taught art and art history and began a series of life-size drawings of nudes, rejecting the medium of oil paint as a distraction.   An encounter with Andy Warhol, who visited Oxford in 1979, occasioned a move to London and brought him celebrities to sit for his pencil portraits, which would be shown at Robert Fraser’s gallery in 1983. He was highly self-critical, and it is unclear whether this, or the circle he moved in then, led to a descent into a cycle of alcohol and drug addiction, from which he only emerged in the late 1990’s.

After this, he was adamant that he would decline commissions and choose his own subjects and sitters. These were highly eclectic, ranging from portraits of prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs, plangent heads of monkeys, the genitalia of middle-aged golfers, the semi-preserved corpses in the Palermo catacombs, distinguished contemporary English writers, to the circle of friends and acquaintances from the council estate where he had his last studio. Many of the portraits were drawn from long and very close observation of the sitter’s features, but appeared as heads floating against an extensive neutral background. There were also occasional studies from nature; foaming waves, winter branches, birds in flight, a dog on a lead.

Although Robert Fraser had given Carr his first exhibition in 1983, subsequent exhibitions were rare: Wildenstein & Co. in 1993, and Marlborough’s galleries in London (2003 & 2008) and New York (2006).

 

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