seems Moser was predestined to be an artist. On his maternal side,
hes related to James McNeill Whistler, painter of that most
famous icon of motherhood, Arrangement in Grey and Black
better known as Whistler's Mother. His father and grandfather
operated Carl Moser Studios on 48th St. in New York City, and
imported very large, hand-carved wooden statues from Europe. As
a small child, Moser would sit in awe at the foot of the figures
and draw them. His grandparents encouraged his creativity. They
brought the impressionable young boy to all of the important museums,
galleries and cultural events in Manhattan. Moser admits his grandmother
had a major influence on his life.
age eight Moser studied privately with artists Phoebe Sonnenberg
and Robert Indiana, whom he credits as his early mentors. They
took me under their wings and had the most impact on my artistic
development, Moser said. While still in high school he studied
at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He went on to
Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pa., but after only
one year was advised not to have any more formal training, as
his talent was already so well-developed and his skill so advanced.
Moser returned to New York in 1971. He found an apartment in SoHo,
neighbored with Russian-American sculptress Louise Nevelson, and
hung out at Maxs Kansas City with the likes of Andy Warhol.
about a year of indulging in the underground lifestyle, Moser
moved to England to study with John Bellamy at the Croydon College
of Art in London. Again he was told to discontinue further studies
and Just paint! After traveling throughout Europe,
the artist eventually returned to New York. He was painting murals
on Fifth Ave. and 57th Street, when the director of Dyansen Gallery,
offered him an exclusive contract that included $250,000 for advertising
first New York exhibition in 1984 was completely sold out at a
preview before its official opening; effectively creating an immediate
waiting list for all future works. The dealers response
to the shows success was to book another three shows back
pressure became overwhelming, even with the help of several assistants.
Moser began to resent the commercialization of his work. I
had a loft on 20th and Park Ave. I was making lots of money and
surrounded by many big celebrities, but I no longer resonated
with that style, Moser said. I wanted to get away
from it and experiment with new ideas. At that time he was
painting works that had a strong mystical element, but were done
in a streamlined style labeled as New Heroicism.
Mosers dealer scheduled a show in Sausilito, California,
the artist rebelled. Instead of the expected New Heroicism
paintings, he shipped out his new figurative, expressionist works.
The artist recalled, The response was all very positive,
except for my dealer who was expecting something else.
his success, Moser lost everything to a fire caused by combustible
solvents. He and a model barely escaped with their lives. But
like the mythical phoenix, Moser saw this as a rebirth. He left
NYC and went on a vision quest in the Southwest. There,
Moser discovered some old barn wood, which inspired him to begin
making icons. Since the fire had completely destroyed his studio,
he made brushes from horse hair and paints from berries, coffee
and other natural pigments.
Los Angeles, Moser was discovered by Berry Gordy,
founder of Motown Records. Gordy and his circle of friends contracted
many private commissions. In 1992 Moser was living in South Beach,
Florida working as Curator for World Gallery, an affiliate of
the Whitney Museum, when Hurricane Andrew hit. He credits his
first icon with saving his life. I didnt have time
to barricade my house, so I invoked the power of St. Michael and
left, he said. When I returned, my neighbors
homes had significant damage from the 200 mph winds, but not even
one paint brush had been touched in my house. That experience
convinced me of the power of icons and inspired me to do more.
artist said his grandmothers death also created a
pivotal effect upon my life and psyche. I began to ask myself
what could I do now that would be of service - a way of giving
back the multitude of gifts she graced my life with. I focused
upon the elderly - producing exhibits, lecturing to them and assisting
terminally ill painters in creating their final works of art.
That, to me, had invaluable meaning and significance."