Carl Walters: Renaissance Man
Born and raised in Iowa, Carl Walters’ early career included stints as a tinsmith and brass patternmaker. He did not receive any formal artistic training until his early 20s when he enrolled in figure-drawing classes at the Minneapolis Art Institute in 1905, followed by the William Merritt Chase School in 1908. Walters eventually developed an interest in ceramics after seeing ancient faience beads at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Over the course of several years, from 1919 to 1921, he taught himself how to craft and glaze his own works in clay. He held his first show as a ceramist at the Whitney Studio Club in 1924.
Walters approached all aspects of artmaking with an open mind and great curiosity and, in addition to ceramics, he applied his considerable talent and ingenuity to learning glassmaking. He built himself a glass furnace and after just over a year of experimentation he was commissioned to design and craft entrance doors for the Whitney Studio Club when it became the Whitney Museum of American Art on West 8th Street in New York. Each of the two doors featured thirty molded glass panels with relief decoration of animals and circus scenes. Walters made the present lot just one year later after his iconic Whitney doors and, beyond being a triumph of self-education, they also exhibit his considerable talents in drawing as well as the influence of his early experiences as a tinsmith and patternmaker.