James Carlin (1906-2005) American
Birthplace/Origin: American Folk Artist Virginia
Born June 15, 1906 in Belfast, Ireland, James Carlin became a noted painter in mod-realist style of genre, figure, landscape and still life. Mediums included oil, pastel, watercolor as well as stained glass and graphics. Watercolor was a specialty. Reviewer Michael Gabriele that “stained glass represented the most enduring aesthetic influence in Carlin’s work. In many of his paintings, his use of color, line and underlying patterns of dark and light echoed the look of stained glass.” Although his painting style was basically representational, Carlin incorporated bold color designs and abstract elements that taken by themselves would be pure abstraction.
James Carlin grew up on Lime Hill Street in Belfast and remained ever-proud of his Irish heritage. His father, Daniel, was a carpenter in the Belfast shipyard, which was the building site of the legendary American ship, the “Titanic”. Many scenes painted by Carlin are of marine genre, fishing and beach activity and hearken back to his interest from childhood in people interacting with the ocean, rivers, etc. Carlin graduated in 1927 from Belfast Municipal College in North Ireland, and began his career at the Campbell Stained Glass Studio in Belfast where he served as an apprentice and craftsman for seven years. He studied stained-glass painting and design and has work in a number of churches in Ireland. He collaborated in designing windows for the Londonderry Guild Hall.
In the 1930s, he emigrated to the United States and became an instructor at the New Jersey School of Fine and Industrial Art in 1946 and head of the department in 1958. His career at that school lasted 30 years. Carlin lived in Nutley, New Jersey where he had a home studio on Cathedral Avenue. Of his professional reputation while in that position, Michael Lenson, Art Critic of the “Newark Sunday News” described Carlin as one of our “foremost realists. While technically mastering form, he never lets it become his master. Rather it enables him to more eloquently interpret visual, social and emotional experiences, which is what his paintings are all about. If Carlin’s painting is exciting, it owes as much to his facile technique as to the artist’s enormous appetite for living, which is undisguised in all his work.”
Exhibition venues include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City and the Miami Beach Art Center in Miami Beach, Florida. From the National Academy of Design, he received the George A Zabriskie Award for Water Color. Carlin has also received awards from the American Water Color Society, Audubon Artists, Allied Artists of America and the Salmagundi Club.