Carrère Gallery, on view through September 10, 2014

The Carrère Gallery is named after the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings which built the Forbes building.

Edward Melcarth was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 31, 1914. He studied and trained at Harvard University with Karl Zerbe, and at the Academie Ranson, Atelier 17, in Paris. But it was in the city of Venice that Melcarth found his spiritual home. He was inspired by the Venetian school of painting, especially the flowing lines and rich colors of Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, in his depiction of America in the 1950s. Although Abstract Expressionism was the dominant style in America throughout this decade, Melcarth worked as a figurative painter until the end of his life.

His subject matter was diverse, from the temporal to the mythological and biblical. However, his figures are almost always clothed in modern-day dress. He painted the picturesque brutality of city life: waitresses, construction workers, medics, Bikers, prostitutes, and junkies. In depicting these everyday people, Melcarth utilizes foreshortened perspective, arbitrary shadows, twisted poses, and huddled forms. There is a mystery and monumentality to his windswept figures. Although he always painted from reality, it was the romance of a given scene that was most important to him. He brought to the canvas the urban drama of the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras in much the same way that Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins brought it to stage and screen with West Side Story.

A prolific draftsman, Melcarth filled numerous sketchbooks and portfolios with his drawings. He was a member of the National Society of Mural Painters and the Architectural League. In New York City, he executed the decorative mural in the Rotunda of the Hotel Pierre and the one on the ceiling of the Lunt Fontaine Theater. Other mural commissions included the lobby and auditorium of the Rooftop Theater, parts of the Time Life Building, and the IBM building.

Melcarth was also an instructor in painting and drawing at the University of Louisville, at Parsons School of Design and Columbia University in New York City, and at the University of Washington. From 1965 until his death on December 14, 1973, he divided his time between New York City, where he taught at the Art Students League and Venice, a city of artistic inspiration where he focused on sculpture.