Carter, Frederic (1885-1967) by Scholes, Robert

Frederic Carter (1885 – 1967) He was born in was born in Bradford ,Yorkshire, and began working as a surveyor, but he also studied painting, etching, and engraving. He also wrote a good deal, especially about religion and mysticism, and he illustrated books, especially in these fields. He was friendly with W. B. Yeats, , T. F. Powys and uring the 1920s he formed a friendship with D.H.Lawrence who visited him in Pontesbury. 1930 contained articles by Carter and D.H.Lawrence on their misconceived joint project on the Apocalypse. In addition to his friendship with D.H.Lawrence, Carter knew Henry Miller with whom he corresponded for several years. He also had close friendships with (joint editor of with Carter), John Gawsworth, Thomas Burke, W.H.Davies, Arthur Machen and M.P.Shiel . Anthony Ludovici gave him a good deal of attention in for December 12, 1912 . Here is some of what Ludovici said in that article. Jacob Epstein The London Mercury Austin Osman Spare Form The New Age (NA 12.6:135) A GOOD plough-boy who knows his work and understands how to cut a straight furrow, is, to my mind, a thousand times more interesting and prepossessing than a bad scene painter. In the same way, though I am far from wishing to imply that Mr. Frederick Carter is as remote from tlhe exalted artist as a ploughboy is from a scene painter, I feel that he is ever so much more interesting in his little etchings than many more pretentious and ambitious painters are in their pictures. I shall not dwell on the technique of his work. Suffice it to say that, in most cases, it does not obtrude, and this is the best compliment .one can pay it. Mr. Carter knows his business as an etcher and he can also handle the graver with skill. (I call it the graver; I believe he calls it ,the burin.) The ability in the use of the graver alone shown in No. 14 at the St. George’s Gallery is a sheer delight. Besides, look at the subject of Nio. 14 ! And that brings me to my principal point atbout Mr. Frederick Carter’s work. At the present moment when the wholle world of art seems to be immersed in the pessimistic swamp of decoration for decoration’s sake, of colour for colour’s sake, or of cubes for cubes’ sake, it is not only refreshing, it is actually invigorating to meet some one who, though he does nlot express himself by means of the majestic pomp ‘of huge canvases, at least believes in having an idea, a thought, an attitude towards life, as the starting point, the spring of all his dainty productions. I have said before how much I detest these artists who produce decorative panels alone-who are stupidly and bovinely content to assemble pretty colours, and who then puff and pout portentously as if they were artist painters. Before many years have elapsed I trust that no one will be deceived any longer by the artful artifices with which tlhis despicable band have attempted to conceal the fact that they are totally devoid of all ideas and of any artistic feeling. You can imagine, therefore, how pleased I was, not only to see, but to hear, that Mr. Carter could not even find the necessary momentum for his work without the enthusiasm and eagerness which is derived from an idea, from a definite message–leagues above mere patterns, decorations, colour schemes and other stupid and superior swindles !–for which he found in etching or in the burin the quickest medium of expression to hand. Or shall I not say, rather, the most congenial medium to hand? For the medium a man chooses to express himself in is not a mere accident, neither is it, as a rule, a matter of time or expediency. And now take a look at Mr. Carter’s subjects :–An elderly spinster, of the virulent type, is savagely chasing a cupid with a butterfly net, and cupid is flitting in high dudgeon through space !–and the plate is called “ Signs, of Spring ” ! Or, maybe, the female figure is Mrs. Grundy, or a terrified matron who fears “consequences.” There is a beautifully grim humour in this, while cupid and the eld’erly spinster are delightfully done. “ Pierrot Pendu ’’ {No. 6) is another of the splendid plates, as is likewise “ The Sphinx London ” (No. 19), and “ Dance Triste ” (No. 16 When you go to this exhibition, you nay be tempted to say that some of these ideas are trivial, or at least unimportant. I would agree to this criticism if the size and medium of their expression were out of all proportion to their significance. But it is precisely in ‘his manner tlhat Mr. Carter shows his wisdom. Good taste forbids a platitude being plastered over the cheek of a pyramid. There is meaning in size. Good taste also forbids what is a dainty and subtle idea being put on the rack 0.n a canvas forty inches by -thirty inches. When Mr. Carter presented these etchings and engravings, however, he was well aware of this profound relation between size in square inches and the magnitude of a thought Perhaps “ The Sphinx London ” is the only one of thetchings which suffers from compression in this sense. If I understand Mr. Carter’s meaning aright, this is a thought which would have deserved a space twenty times the size of many a canvas covered by a Cubist or other humbugging crank of Ithe modern school. If Mr. Carter wlill take a word of warning from one whlo in giving it feels his position most acutely, he will beware of overdoing the f’antastic. Great ideas are not generated in clouds. When a man’s imagination cannot swim in the n’ormal waters of reality, he does not teach it to do so by going up in a balloon.

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