Calla Lilies

A work made of oil on canvas.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Arthur B. Carles
American, 1882–1952

About this artwork

In 1922, Arthur B. Carles began a series of calla lily paintings, using the flowers’ stark shapes as the basis for formal experiments into color and surface. Calla lilies were of particular interest to Carles’s fellow modernists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and Marsden Hartley because of their sexual connotations, which these artists frequently exaggerated or exploited. Carles’s Calla Lilies does not appear to carry any erotic overtones but instead is restrained in color and almost classically composed. Carles played with the effects of light and shadow on the curving shapes of the blossoms, contrasting the firmly modeled white flowers with the more loosely painted background. These juxtapositions expressed his fascination with the play of space in his compositions, and he likened the deliberate intervals between the flowers to the rhythmic qualities of music.

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American Art


Arthur B. Carles


Calla Lilies


United States




Oil on canvas


76.2 × 61 cm (30 × 24 in.)

Credit Line

Quinn E. Delaney and Vance American Art funds; through prior gift of the Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection Fund; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Wacker Jr. Endowment Fund; restricted gift of Julie and Brian Simmons

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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