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Hunt Slonem

 (born 1951)
Hunt Slonem is active/lives in New York, Louisiana, Maine / India.  Hunt Slonem is known for neo-expressionist painting-exotic tropical birds.

Hunt Slonem

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Hunt Slonem
Hunt Slonem was born in Kittery, Maine in 1951.  His fascination with exotica imprinted during his childhood in Hawaii and experience as a foreign exchange student in Managua, Nicaragua.  Slonem received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University of Louisiana and studied painting at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Since 1977, Slonem soloed in over one hundred fifty exhibitions at prestigious galleries. His work is exhibited globally, including in Madras, Quito, Venice, Gustavia, San Juan, Guatemala City, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm, Oslo, Cologne, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Over fifty museums internationally include his work in their collections, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York. His work has been shown in thirty-one different museums. Corporate collections include American Telephone and Telegraph, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank, Continental Airlines, Goldman Sachs Co., IBM Corporation, Marriot Corporation, Paine Webber, Inc., Port Authority, and Readers Digest Inc. He won the 1991 National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Painting, and McDowell Fellowships in 1986, 1984 and 1983.

Since 1973, Slonem has lived and worked in New York City in his legendary loft with his seventy pet birds. The birds are his models. So enmeshed and unique are his aviary, studio, lifestyle and painting, that Slonem has been featured on television a dozen times and in numerous articles. In his 1993 essay, the late Henry Geldzahler describes, "The visual field of Hunt Slonem's paintings is a continuum accented by ovals of varying shape and colors that it turns out are birds." The birds evolved from Slonem's early paintings of saints as well as inspiration from the pioneers of bird imagery in painting, including Fabritsius, Heade and Audubon. Audubon shot one hundred birds for each painting. Slonem is instead a slave to his birds. He spends the first two hours a day caring for them; the rest of the day painting them.

Slonem's birds symbolize the soul and spiritual liberation.  Repeated trips to India have nurtured the artist's spirituality.  His work depicts his reverence for exotic life forms. Birds are one of the great treasures of the earth that sixty million years of uninterrupted evolution have created in the rain forest. Many are now extinct because of man's astonishing destruction. Slonem's images are a plea to the viewer to look at these creatures before they disappear from the planet. Poet and critic John Ashbery observes, "From the narrow confines of his grids, half cage, half perch, Slonem summons dazzling explosions of the variable life around us that needs only to be looked at in order to spring into being."

Stewart & Stewart Printmakers

Biography from Auctionata
Hunt Slonem was born in 1951, in New York.  He is best known for his representational imagery with elements of Abstract Expressionism. 

Hunt Slonem often fuses mysticism and whimsy in his animal subjects.  Slonem studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Tulane University. 

His interest in birds – a frequent subject of the artist – began as a child living in Hawaii and studying in Nicaragua. These travels have also heavily influenced his work, infusing them with elements of varying cultures.

His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and can be found in the public collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Moreau Foundation, including numerous private collections.

The artist currently lives and works in New York.

Biography from
Called a Neo-Expressionist, Hunt Slonem inserts realism into his Abstract Expressionism.  He combines Abstract Expressionist techniques with mysticism and animal subjects of Islam and Mexico, and is best known for his paintings of tropical birds, based on a personal aviary in which he keeps about 100 live birds of various species.

Born in Kittery Maine, Slonem spent his childhood in various states including California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Virginia and Washington because his father was in the Navy.  During college, he lived in Mexico and Nicaragua, and these cultures much influenced his art.  He studied art at Vanderbilt and Tulane and spent a summer at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

In 1972, he moved to New York and started using Nicaraguan holy cards as subject matter for paintings, and he has continued to do paintings of Saints.  In the 1980s, after three trips to India, his work became more formal and complex in composition.  He started using hatch marks in 1988.  He builds patterns of repeat images of the bird subject and paints them in recognizable settings such as cages. He also paints the human figure, some of them based on photos of the actor, Valentino. 

His work came on the avant-garde art scene when he moved to New York.  There he did some huge, panoramic murals including an 85-foot long frieze for the Bryant Park Grill. 

His focus is on the act of painting, and he does not strive to convey a narrative message.  He paints quickly, and often his colors are jarring; he is fascinated by the manipulation of paint.  He usually begins by filling in a canvas with one color, then blocks in other hues, adds the animals or figures, and then the hatched scratch marks.

1973 Bachelor of Arts, Tulane University, New Orleans
1972 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME

Art Museum of West Virginia, Roanoke, VA
Bergen Museum of Arts and Science, Paramus, NJ
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Bowdoin Museum of Art, Mrunswick, MA
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
Colegio de Architecto, Quito, Ecuador
Colby Museum, Waterville, ME
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH
Danville Museum, Danville, VA
Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, IN
Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY
Henie-Onstad Kuntsenter, Hovikodden, Norway
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design of Kansas City Art Institute, Kansay City, MO
Le Musee d'Art Haitian, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manila, Phillipines
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Miro Foundation, Spain
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MI
Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL
Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
Pulitzer Collection, Amsterdam, Hollan
Queens Museum, Queens, NY
Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
St. Mary's College, Saint Mary, MD
St. Petersburg of Fine Art, St. Petersburg, FL
Sidney Museum, Port Orchard, WA
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Stamford, CT
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
Wurth Museum, Kunzlesau, Germany

Artbank Program, US Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY
Continental Airlines
Goldman Sachs Co, NY
Hilton, Guam
Human Systems Technology, Baltimore, MD
IBM Corporation
Marriot Corporation
NY American Telephone and Telegraph
Nieman-Marcus, Dallas, TX
Paine Weber, Inc. Lincoln Harbour, NJ
Port Authority, One World Trade Center (Mural), New York, NY
Primavera Systems, Cynwyd, PA
Princess Cruise Lines
Readers Digest Inc., Pleasantville, NY
Sanco General Corporation
Silvestri Coprporation, Chicago, IL
Sonestra Corporation, Boston, MA
Tucker Anthony Inc., New York, NY
United States Despartment of State, Washington, D.C.
Zale Corporation, Dallas, TX

National Endowment for the Arts
1986, 1984, 1983
MacDowell Fellowship, Peterborough, NH
Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL
Millay Colony, Austerlitz, NY
Cultural Council Foundation Arts Project, NY
Elizabeth T. Greenshields Foundation, Grant for Painting, Montreal, Canada

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About  Hunt Slonem

Born:  1951 - Kittery, Maine
Known for:  neo-expressionist painting-exotic tropical birds