Nick Carone: Shadow Dance

02/01/18
Boca Raton Museum of Art

On view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Apr. 24–Jul. 29, 2018

Boca Raton, FL -- Nick Carone (1917-2010) was one of the original Abstract Expressionists, a group that included his friends Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. This exhibition is named for Shadow Dance, a late work from 2007 that epitomizes Carone’s long and varied career. This monumental black and white painting encompasses both the abstract and figurative aspects of his work. At first glance the work appears abstract but on closer examination figures dance across the canvas. Shadow Dance, along with nearly 20 more paintings, works on paper, and the rarely exhibited enigmatic sculptural heads he carved from fieldstone found on his property in Italy, are on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art April 24 through July 29, 2018.

Carone was born in 1917 on New York’s Lower East Side to Italian immigrants. In 1941 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome and spent time in Italy where he later had his first solo exhibition in 1949. In Rome, Carone became a member of a thriving art scene centered near the Spanish Steps and formed lifelong friendships with artists such as Roberto Matta, Alberto Burri, and Conrad Marc-Relli. 

In 1951 he returned to the US and joined with a group of avant-garde artists who became known as the New York School. He was included in the pivotal Ninth Street Show along with Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, and others. This exhibition introduced the Abstract Expressionists to the art world. Carone was particularly close with Jackson Pollock and lived next door to Mark Rothko. He also was the founding director of seminal Stable Gallery, where he gave shows to such luminaries as Philip Guston, de Kooning, and Pollock.

Carone exhibited extensively with his in peers in important venues such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and had many solo exhibitions of his work, the last of which was in 1961. Despite this early success, Carone became disillusioned with the art world after the advent of Pop Art and refused to exhibit his work in galleries except occasionally with his brother Matthew Carone in Fort Lauderdale. Although he never stopped making art Carone became better known as an influential teacher for 26 years at the New York Studio School where he joined a faculty that included Philip Guston and Alex Katz. 

Throughout his life Carone maintained his connections to Italy and his study of Italian antiquities and the Renaissance masters. He eventually bought a farmhouse in Umbria and became part of a community of artists who lived and worked near the town of Todi. In addition to paintings and drawings, this exhibition includes a series of enigmatic stone heads he carved beginning in the 1970s from fieldstones he found on his land.

The acclaim Carone received in the early years of his career in Rome and New York was replicated in the final years of his life. Many friends and students knew of the large body of work he had produced and his colleagues finally persuaded by him to agree to a solo gallery exhibition in 2005 at the age of 88. 

In the years before his death in 2010, Carone’s work was the subject of six exhibitions that were met with praise from critics. John Yau said the work Carone made at the age of 90 was “nothing short of miraculous” and called for a much needed reevaluation of artists still living who had been associated with the Abstract Expressionists. At the end of his life Carone was honored with the Andrew Carnegie Prize from the National Academy Museum and a lifetime achievement award from the Pollock Krasner Foundation.

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Please contact Kelsey Johnson at kjohnson [at] bocamuseum [dot[] org for interviews with Senior Curator Kathleen Goncharov or Museum Executive Director Irvin Lippman. High-res images and captions available on request.