One of my favorite parts of being a vintage seller, is researching the history of items that we source. When I picked up this large velvet cityscape signed "Carlo", I knew that there had to be a story behind it. It is hand painted on velvet and depicts a night time view of a cityscape reflected on water. The older gentleman that I purchased it from laughed because he didn't really think much of it, but we thought it really suited the collection that we are offering in this week's "Luxe Drop".
Velvet Carlo of Hollywood Painting we will be selling
Who Was Carlo?
This deep dive starts with the signature "Carlo". I researched the signature "Carlo" and the Google trail led me to Carlo of Hollywood. I thought that was an interesting name for the artist and so I tried to look up a bio on him.
First, I encountered eBay listings for the artwork and a few auction sites. Apparently, Carlo of Hollywood created paintings that could actually be lit up, hooked up to electricity!
This painting is actually lit up! See ebay listing
Intrigued, I searched further. Some of the sources that I found said that Carlo may have been a designer for the set of "I Love Lucy" and that he was commissioned to paint original artwork to be gifted to new owners of tract homes in New York. I found more info from a dedicated Carlo of Hollywood Facebook group, as Carlo pieces, especially 50s watercolors with their unique frames, are very collectible. Some of the artwork may lean more towards the kitsch style - but Carlo of Hollywood didn't fit just into one box of subject matter.
Today, you may still find an original sticker on his artwork for Artcraft, which was sold at department stores. Employed by Artcraft, which also made the frames for his artwork, Carlo is said to have led a group of other artists to create original artwork. Carlo would do the initial sketch and the artists would reproduce the artwork. This is what many refer to as "factory art", although in my opinion, since real artists are still creating the artwork by hand - that puts it a step above mass-produced prints by machines. The variety of artists involved accounts for the differences in the way "Carlo" was signed.
From what I saw online, there isn't much info on Carlo, himself. Some theories are that it was just a pseudonym, like "C. Jere" and really represents a group of artists, rather than just one Carlo. Please, if you know more info, correct me if this is the wrong understanding!
Not by Carlo of Hollywood, but another original piece of artwork we sold that may be considered "factory art" by some critics
At any rate, I was amazed by the variety of subject matter that is represented by Carlo of Hollywood. Matadors, Polynesian women, still life paintings, wildlife, nautical scenes and more. I can see why people choose to collect Carlo of Hollywood artwork!
Let us know in the comments what you think of Carlo of Hollywood artwork. Thanks for reading!