Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Arthur Carter will be the subject of a solo exhibition this summer at the Southampton Arts Center from July 16 to August 9. His large-scale metal sculptures, drawings, paintings, maquettes, and orthogonal wall reliefs will be shown throughout the museum and grounds. While the Constructivism-inspired nature of his work, with its allusions to mathematics and classical music, is remarkably engaging, his path to a career in art may be equally unexpected. He grew up the son of a teacher and an IRS agent, constantly feeling “one down” from his peers despite his ability to excel in school, at piano, and in his eventual matriculation into Brown for undergrad and later Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Even after landing a position at Lehman Brothers, he continued to strive do more than what he perceived others expected from him.
That drive led to an exceptional career in finance, but he didn’t stop there. In 1981 he founded the Litchfield County Times, and six years later, the New York Observer. At that time, his sketches for the designs of the papers evolved into prospective sketches for sculpture. He’s been creating out of his studio in Roxbury, Connecticut. We spoke with Carter about how a man of economics, and even publishing, found himself in the world of art.
WHITEWALL: It wasn’t until about 30 years ago that you and your wife, Linda, started collecting art. What kind of art were you drawn to then? Did art play much of a role in your life before then?
ARTHUR CARTER: My wife and I began collecting art about 35 years ago. We were drawn to the abstract work of the 20th century. Art did not play much a role before that time.
WW: What made you start to sketch ideas for sculpture?
AC: I started sketching when I was running three newspapers and a magazine. I was the graphic designer for the newspapers, which led me to sketch. My ideas for the newspapers led to ideas for the sculpture.
WW: You said that you became a sculptor, versus a painter, because for every one thousand painters there are only a handful of sculptors. But you’ve since gone on to do paintings and drawings as well. Are those mediums always in service of sculpture for you?
AC: Paintings and drawings are preliminary ideas for sculpture. Sometimes they work as sculptures, and sometimes they do not.
WW: You’ve said that your interest in art stems from Constructivism. What about this appeals to you?
AC: I read the book on Constructivism by George Rickey and everything in that book strongly appealed to me.
WW: How do you think ideas in mathematics and music influence your practice?
AC: I believe mathematics and music do influence my work, but I am not sure how.
WW: You were trained as a pianist growing up. While you’re sketching or working in the studio, do you listen to music?
WW: How do you think your studio on your farm in Connecticut has influenced the kind of work you create?
AC: It is a beautiful, quiet setting that allows me to concentrate on the work.
WW: How were the works for the Southampton Arts Center chosen? Will any new works be on view that you can tell us about?
AC: Leila Heller and her staff and I chose the work. A few new pieces, mainly “Orthogonals,” will be in the show.
WW: You’ve said that a lot of what you’ve done comes from this feeling you’ve had of being “one down” in life—not going to private school, not coming from a certain family, et cetera, and that your choices in business, to start a newspaper, and to be a sculptor come from this. Making large-scale sculpture and art that can live on and have influence, do you think about the legacy that comes from that?
AC: No, but I still believe that the influences you mentioned have played a role in most aspects of my life.
This article is in Whitewall’s special Hamptons Issue out now.