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Carl Hall

American, 1921-1996


Washington September 17, 1921



Occupation or Type


Northwest artist

Oregon artist


Carl Hall was the student of Carlos Lopez at the Meinzinger School and a promising artist in Detroit when he interrupted his career to join the army. He came to Oregon as an infantryman during World War II in 1942, fell under the spell of the local landscape, and returned permanently in 1946. He began teaching in the art department at Willamette University in 1947 when Professor Esther Huffman discovered his work and offered him a part-time teaching position. Soon he was full-time artist-in-residence at Willamette and eventually attained regular faculty status. He received national recognition in March of 1948 when Life magazine featured an article about his work, calling him a "magic realist." One year later he received a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In spite of all the national attention, Hall made the decision to stay in Salem, continuing to show his work in juried national exhibitions while also establishing an important regional career in the Northwest. In 1953 William Givler, Hall, and two Washington artists exhibited in a four-person show at the Seattle Art Museum. In 1959, he was a member of the advisory committee for Oregon's Centennial Art Exhibition. In the early 1960s, he painted a mural (now destroyed) for the Commercial Bank in Salem.

Hall is fondly remembered by students, whom he led on expeditions to the coast, the mountains, to his home, and on prowls all over to see the country in a creative way. He reminded them that knowing their environment is part of education. He felt that "arts exist because someone has to tell the truth about life...the arts remind us...that we are not a crowd. We’re individuals. Art teaches awareness...it’s a way of exploring the world and yourself." He admired Emerson and Thoreau and was a writer himself, a part-time poet, and art critic. John Casey, in a review of Hall’s work at Willamette University, described his style as "a blend of realism and formalism of abstraction...suggestive...thus engaging the imagination of the viewer."

Hall was noted for his paintings of the Willamette Valley, the Oregon Coast, the female figure, and (in the 1970s) Alaska. He retired from Willamette in 1986. The Pacific Northwest Gallery of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University is named the Carl Hall Gallery.

Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.



Related People

Associate of: William H. Givler (American, 1908-2000)

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