Arthur B. Carles was born in Philadelphia in 1882. He studied for seven years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he became interested in French Impressionism. In 1907, Carles traveled to France, where he saw the work of modern French artists first-hand. Carles became interested particularly in the paintings of Cézanne and Matisse.
In 1910, after his return to the United States, Carles participated in a “Younger American Painters” exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in New York. There, Carles showed boldly colored, vigorous paintings that illustrate the influence of French modernism on his work including, in his fragmented and flattened forms, the emerging cubist movement. As a member of the group of avant-garde American artists who gathered around Gallery 291, Carles had a number of one-man exhibitions there. In 1913, Carles also exhibited in the Armory Show, the first major exhibition in America that drew together progressive European and American artists and introduced the American public to new modernist styles.
From 1917 to 1925 Carles taught art at the Pennsylvania Academy, where he advocated modernist theories and techniques to his students. In his own work, he emphasized the use of color as the basis for compositional structure, a manner that made his paintings vibrant and strong. By synthesizing color and abstraction with bold, forceful brush strokes, Carles’s painting foreshadowed Abstract Expressionism. He continued to teach privately in the 1930s, but was forced to give up his painting in 1941 due to an accident that injured his left hand. Carles died in 1952.