Born in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1904, Carter had decided to pursue art by the age of six.
By age 26 he had graduated from The Cleveland Institute of Arts, traveled extensively through Europe, studied at Hans Hoffman Summer School in Capri and had exhibited in Carnegie International, and other international watercolor exhibitions. Through the next four decades, Carter's works had been labeled, surrealism, Magic Realism, geometric abstraction, pop and op, but no category could capture his style completely.
It was in the mid-1960's, in his series called "Mandalas," that his fascination with the egg-shaped ovoid began. Author James A. Michener has commented that the egg in Carter's works is ". . . a mysterious symbol evoking the past, the origins, the overtones of Christianity."
In addition, Carter has
painted murals for a number of buildings. He also has taught,
lectured and judged at such notable schools as The Minneapolis
School of Art, Ohio. University, Lafayette College, Iowa State
and his alma mater. On his works Carter has said: "for
me no great art has ever existed without some mystery and some
awe. It is that intangible which can never be defined but only
felt in an elusive way that stirs the spirit."
Recognition of Carter’s place in American art spiked in the 1970s, when he was mentioned or discussed at some length in 11 books and peaked in the 1980s with his mention in18 books. By the centenary of his birth in 2004, citations of his work totaled 61. Clarence Carter died in 2000 at the age of 96.