Kaleidoscope, by Clark Hulings


Update: Kaleidoscope had a great sale at Scottsdale Art Auction 2018.

“Finally, I distributed the ‘chips’ of color — the reds, blues, greens, yellow, pinks, oranges and hues in between — doing all these things to move the viewer’s eye and make my ‘kaleidoscope’ rotate.”

This week we begin a five-week series of Freshly Revealed stories about Hulings works to be featured at the Scottsdale Art Auction on April 7, 2018. Collectors: mark your calendars! This year will show a comprehensive selection of Clark Hulings’ work, with an unprecedented number and variety of pieces representing four decades of his more than sixty-year career.

Art & Produce Markets

Kaleidoscope is undoubtedly one of the pivotal works of Hulings’ career. Set in a Mexican fruit and vegetable market, this 1980 painting originally sold at the Houston Heritage Auction for $310,000 (In 1981 that was a staggering price.) With over 30 visible human figures, the vitality in the work is created through a series of skillful choices about the positioning of color; the internal architecture provided by the tarpaulins and the steps point us to the key figure. The lady in the blue and white dress sitting between her scale and basket of tomatoes is the focal point: with her head quietly bowed, she is absorbed with and surrounded by her work. Of the scores of technically-challenging market scenes Hulings painted in his lifetime, this one is an absolute standout for its masterful complexity and joyful color palette.

Scoping Out the Scene

Hulings’ Own Words from A Gallery of Paintings:

“Each vendor has two large canvas squares, one on which to sit and display wares, and one stretched overhead to provide protection from the sun. These vary in color. Onto this pattern of slanted checkerboards appear the vendors with their piles of fruit and vegetables and a stream of shoppers milling up and down the narrow aisles, judging quality and price, sometimes squatting down to buy. I spent a couple of hours watching the constant change of shapes and colors, likening the scene to a kaleidoscope, the hollow tube containing mirror and colored glass chips which, when rotated, produces and effect similar to the one before me. So I chose the name Kaleidoscope for my unpainted picture.

In Rotation

“Once this idea was fixed, planning the picture was great fun. It became a matter of juggling shapes and patches of awnings and sunshine, of adjusting values of bright light, solid shadow and filtered light. Finally, I distributed the ‘chips’ of color — the reds, blues, greens, yellow, pinks, oranges and hues in between — doing all these things to move the viewer’s eye and make my ‘kaleidoscope’ rotate.”


There’s still time to get a hard copy of the Scottsdale Art Auction catalogue, which features all five of the Hulings pieces — click here.  If this key painting in the Hulings oeuvre has caught your eye, just send us a note and we’ll put you in touch.

Fruit to Flowers

If reproductions are more your speed but you love the play of colors in this work, then let us draw your attention half a world away to Paris, where Place des Ternes accomplishes with flowers what Kaleidoscope does with produce — a counterclockwise circular motion created through strategic use of architecture and color. It’s available as a signed archival print from the Hulings store on Etsy. Hulings fans will note the presence of Elizabeth in the blue hat on the bench and Mary Hulings in the yellow blouse.

Place des Ternes, by Clark Hulings
Place des Ternes, by Clark Hulings

Do You Know About the Clark Hulings Foundation?

A portion of net proceeds of the Clark Hulings Estate are donated to CHF, to enable working artists like Clark to build self-sustaining businesses.

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