CARL E. PULCIFER (1909-1985)
Click below to view his artwork:
The Sea Nature Country Houses Faces Stills The City
Part of Carl's influence on me was an appreciation of his ability to combine classic art and superb draftsmanship with modernism. His life was a tribute to his work.
Carl was born in Brooklyn, New York. His family was very talented and financially
well-off. His father, a graduate of the Yale School of Fine Arts, was an organist for a
large church in Brooklyn and a well-known music teacher. His mother was a voice
teacher. His uncle, Edwin C. Taylor, was a teacher at Yale and a street professor of art.
Taylor was a student of the Art Student's League in New York and of Kenyon Cox.
Kenyon Cox was a student of Carolus Duran and Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris.
took the very young Carl to the Armory Show in New York in 1913. (Carl
said he was about 5 years old at the time.) This first U. S. exhibition of
modern art had a huge impact on Carl, who later studied under Taylor while
earning his Master's degree at Yale. Carl's maternal aunt,
Lillian Blauvelt, was a famous opera singer. She and Mrs. Pulcifer traveled the U.S.
and Europe in the late-1800's and early 1900's.
As a small boy, Carl spent his summers in Maine. His father owned a small island on Lake St. George, near Belfast, Maine. The time spent fishing, boating, and hunting on this island and the lake surrounding it would be subjects of many of the paintings Carl would transfer from his mind to the canvas as an adult. Carl led a sheltered and happy life until his father lost most of the family money. The Pulcifers then moved to the city of Belfast, Maine, where Carl worked at odd jobs and in the shipyards to supplement his art teaching.
In 1942, Carl volunteered for the Army. Because of his keen vision, he was chosen for the dangerous job of tail-gunner. By this time, Carl was in his thirties. The memories of his close calls with death and seeing death on a daily basis would change and shape the way he would see and live his life from that time on. Many have noted anger in his powerful ocean paintings and in the eyes of many of his subjects. However, he could be so gentle with his brush in other paintings.
At the end of his tour of duty, Carl married Dorothy Lindsey, also an artist. Dorothy and Carl met while both were stationed in California. While at Ft. Stockton, Dorothy had earned honors for her large floral mural painted on the mess hall wall for the benefit of officers, visiting dignitaries and enlisted persons. She was in the Women's Air Corps. Following their marriage, the couple moved back to Belfast, and after a few years of art teaching, they moved to Tyler, Texas, Dorothy's home town. Carl and Dorothy taught for almost thirty years in their home/studio. They had hundreds of students and helped shape the lives of many young artists. Both were famous in the East Texas area for their art and teaching ability.
Carl spent the last thirty years of his life, for the most part, as a recluse. He did not drive because he felt automobiles were unsafe. He did travel some, however, with Dorothy at the wheel, touring Texas, making sketches and photographs for future paintings.
Dorothy died in 1982, and Carl became very lonely. He was able to return to his beloved Maine in 1984, for a final visit. The long months planning the trip and the wonderful memories afterwards were the only things Carl lived for. Carl died after a sudden illness in October of 1985.
Carl painted what was in his head, most times without even a picture to look at. He did not paint to sell, only to put down thoughts and feelings. Carl had so many other interests, including astronomy. He was an avid reader and loved music, especially opera. He wrote two books, the first entitled Through Hostile Skies (as yet unpublished) about his experiences as a tail-gunner, and the second, a biography of his aunt, Lillian Blauvelt.
Return to Main Index