Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Sea Wall by Carl Hall

  • Title: Sea Wall
  • Artist: Carl Hall
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Size: 28"h x 48.5"w
  • Creation date: 1991
  • Added to collection: 2014
  • Donor: The Bill Rhoades Collection, a gift in memory of Murna and Vay Rhoades
  • Campus: Rock Creek
  • Location: B2/2 N Study Hallway gallery

Carl Hall liked to combine abstract moves with surreal, illustrative detail. This painting is a good example: the seawall and elevated boardwalk are dynamic planes with a strong abstract space, yet the anecdotes of the embedded rocks, the soft light on the cliff front, and the atmospheric landscape in the distance are rendered in high naturalism and areal perspective. This diversity of painterly techniques and ways of seeing characterize a lot of American art of the postwar period when the regionalist landscape traditions of the Great Depression were being integrated (sometimes awkwardly) into the influence of European Modernism and of Abstract Expressionism. Carl Hall was caught between the Scylla of regionalism and the Charybdis of abstraction and emerged as triumphantly as Odysseus – an unlikely Surrealist.