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paul duhem
howard finster
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carter todd
mose tolliver
robert wilkinson
purvis young

 Carter Todd: American (1947-2004)

Carter Todd
9/30/87 (1987)
Graphite and crayon on paper :: 9½ x 12½
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd
Carter Todd

biographical information

Carter Todd started drawing about 1980 when, in his thirty-third year, he entered a center for alcohol treatment. Lacking the ability to read, and weary of the offerings on television, Todd began drawing to overcome boredom. As he explained it:

"One day I asked a center worker for a pencil and some paper. Once I started drawing, I didn't want to stop. It calms me. It makes me feel good."

The subject of Todd's art was unvarying. Always he drew buildings, houses in suburban and exurban settings, school houses, churches, hospitals, even pizzerias. His ceaseless drawing of architectural subjects might be viewed as an activity related to that of a child who endlessly erects different structures with building blocks.

Maybe only the architect Frank Gehry has designed houses that are quite as quirky as those seen in Todd's drawings. For all the eccentricity of Todd's conceptions, though, he was painstakingly compulsive about detailing all the components of his buildings - their bricks, their shingles, the millions of windows.

What is also intriguing about his drawings is their multiplicity of perspectives. In a primitive cubism of his own invention, Todd sometimes presents volumetric form in all three dimensions. Todd's drawings refer to buildings that he has seen in actuality or on television, although the drawings take their form from his memory of the structures, rather than through the use of any visual aids, such as photographs. He has no explanation why he is drawn to architectural subjects.

"The buildings just come out of my head."

Todd's schooling ended in the ninth grade. He suffered from epilepsy and also had other health problems. Now and then he worked as a short order cook and as a filling station attendant. As a teen ager, he also worked at the Indianapolis Speedway which might explain why his drawings sometimes include automobiles that are suggestive of racing cars.

Todd's work has been exhibited at the Madison (WI) Art Center, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the Haggerty Art Museum in Milwaukee, as well as in numerous other art institutions. In 1994, he was give a one-man show at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Center in Madison. His art is in such corporate collections as those of the Strombecker Corp., Chicago; the Rayovac Corp., Madison, and Arthur Andersen & Co. in Chicago. His work is also in numerous private collections of "outsider" art, among them those of Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson, Chicago; Arnulf Rainer, Vienna; the late Hert Hemphill, New York City, Barbara and Russell Bowman, Milwaukee, and Bruno Decharme, Paris, France, creator of the ABCD Collection, that was presented at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York early in 2001 before beginning a tour of other US museums.

price range:

$250 and up