Landscape Painter Clark Hulings Dies at Age 88

16 Feb 2011

The Lonely Man by Clark Hulings
Last week, we received some surprising and very sad news in the American Artist office. The widely-admired landscape painter Clark Hulings had passed away at the age of 88. We learned this less than a day after finishing work on a feature article about Hulings that will appear in our upcoming special issue, Plein Air Painting. He was a wonderful painter who depicted the world with tremendous empathy and a keen eye. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

An obituary is below. For more information, or to donate to a memorial fund that will benefit the Santa Fe Community Foundation, visit Hulings' website.


Clark Hulings, whose paintings are prized by art collectors worldwide, died on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lived. He was 88. 

As one of the leading American realist painters, Mr. Hulings traveled the world looking for rural and urban landscapes and genre scenes that became the subjects of paintings reflecting the vibrancy of the human spirit. Admired for his genius in manipulating the formal elements, he searched for beauty in places where others might only find misery: In the world of street people he saw compassion and self-respect. In urban alleyways he envisioned sunlit corridors of family activity.  Among rustic farmers he discovered people whose lives were synchronized with cycles of the seasons and the animals they care for.

Mr. Hulings’ ability to see timeless beauty in momentary human gestures and activities won him the appellation “master” on numerous occasions. His celebration of textures as expressed through light, shadow, and atmosphere was explained as “describing air itself.” His modesty in the face of such acclaim was legendary. Throughout his career he maintained a personal profile far lower than his national acclaim.

Mr. Hulings’ subject matter was gathered throughout North America and Europe, notably France, Italy, and Spain, where he lived as a child and frequently visited as an adult. Among his signature subjects are complex Mexican and European market scenes that include panoplies of colors, surfaces, and shapes.  His affection for donkeys was a trademark, with the animal’s quiet demeanors becoming a metaphor of human patience and perseverance.

Ile de la Cite, Paris by Clark Hulings
Born in Florida, November 20, 1922, Mr. Hulings was raised in Westfield, N.J.  Over his lifetime, he resided in New York, Louisiana, and throughout Europe before settling in Santa Fe in 1972. His art training began as a teenager with Sigismund Ivanowsky and the fames draftsman George Bridgman and continued at The Art Students League with Frank Reilly. With a degree in physics from Haverford College, Pa., Hulings pursued an initial career as a portraitist in Louisiana, followed by freelance illustration in New York, notably paperback book covers, during the 1950s.

By the early 1960s, Mr. Hulings devoted himself to easel paintings. In 1965 he debuted in New York City, at The Grand Central Art Galleries. In 1976 he was the subject of a solo exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center, in Oklahoma City, which was documented in the book Hulings—A Collection of Oil Paintings (Lowell Press), followed in 1978 by a retrospective at the Museum of the Southwest, in Midland, Texas and a 1981 exhibition at the C.M. Russell Museum, in Great Falls, Montana. Most recently, Mr. Hulings’ work was the subject of a 2007 one-man exhibition at J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, and Morris & Whiteside Galleries, in Hilton Head, South Carolina. His scheduled exhibition of paintings at the Forbes Galleries, New York, takes place March 23 through June 18, 2011.

Onteniente by Clark Hulings
In 1986, Mr. Hulings authored the book A Gallery of Paintings by Clark Hulings (White Burro Publishing). The book was updated and reissued in soft cover in 2006. His paintings have been included in countless articles and surveys such as The Majesty of the Grand Canyon: 150 Years of Art (Pomegranate Press) and Landscapes of New Mexico: Paintings of the Land of Enchantment (Fresco Fine Art Publishing).

He is the recipient of several awards from organizations such as The Allied Artists of America, The Salmagundi Club and The Hudson Valley Art Association. In 1973 he received the Prix de West award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, where his painting Grand Canyon, Kaibab Trail is in the permanent collection.  In his adopted state, Mr. Hulings was recognized with his first one-man show in 1945 at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe. In 1985, the museum installed a Hulings plaque on its artist walk of fame; and in 2004, he received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Mr. Hulings is survived by his wife Mary Belfi Hulings, daughter Elizabeth Hulings Diamond, son-in-law Patrick Diamond, grandson Nicolas and sister Susan Ottinger. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted at the Santa Fe Community Foundation for the Clark Hulings’ Memorial Fund, 516 Alto St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, The fund will provide support for visual artists.

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