Charles Farr (1908-1997) Untitled (portrait of seated woman), oil on canvas, 22 x 27 inches, c. 1935. Painting is unsigned but has a letter of provenance from Steven Wolf (gallery owner in San Francisco, CA) who bought the painting from Farr’s estate.
Charles Griffin Farr was born in 1908 in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Tennessee. He studied in New York City at the Arts Students League (with George Bridgman and George Luks) and at the Academie Americaine in Paris, France (with Jean Despujols).
During the 1930s Farr worked with the Works Progress Administration (WPA), specifically the Federal Art Project (FAP), and trained as a restorer of ancient pottery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He taught art in Key West, Florida for the FAP for a short time. During WWII, Farr joined the Army where he participated in the Normandy invasion of 1944. After the war, Farr taught art in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a year and then moved to San Francisco in 1948 where he studied under the GI Bill at the San Francisco Art Institute (then known as the California School of Fine Arts), where he taught from 1959-1967.
Farr lived and worked in the Potrero Hill neighborhood and for three decades hosted a weekly figure painting/drawing session at his studio which for many years included artists Mark Adams, William Theophilus Brown, Gordon Cook, Wayne Thiebaud, Beth Van Hoesen, and Paul Wonner.
In 1987 Farr won a prize from the American Institute of Art and Letters, partly because of the efforts of Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud, who both admired his work. Thiebaud later wrote an introduction to a retrospective exhibition catalog of Farr’s work.
Farr’s work is in the National Museum of American Art, the Oakland Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery at U.C. Santa Cruz (to which Farr made a bequest of artworks upon his death). He had numerous shows, including at the Charles Campbell Gallery (San Francisco) and the Contemporary Realist Gallery (San Francisco), The Art Museum of South Texas (Corpus Christi, TX), Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH), South Bend Regional Museum of Art (South Bend, IN), and the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (Santa Barbara, CA).
Known primarily as a realist painter who favored still life, landscape, and portraiture, this painting adheres to Farr’s early period working with the WPA while under the influence of George Luks.
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