Hunt Slonem is an American artist internationally renowned for his contributions to the Neo-Expressionist movement. Slonem made his name through paintings with brilliant colors and his signature motifs, large sculptures, and considerate restorations of historic American buildings.
Slonem embraces gestural lines and textured applications of the Neo-Expressionist style to share an inner awe for nature and culture with his viewers. The subjects of Slonem's works are not without deliberation. He professes his lifelong connection with butterflies, bunnies, and birds, even owning many of them as pets. The relationship between the artist and his varied subjects flourished with the constant change in scenery from travel in his early life.
Early Life & Career
Born in 1951 in Kittery, Maine, Slonem studied painting at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. The Artist's education continued at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Slonem's grandfather, an amateur artist, would be the first to introduce him to the art world, building the foundation for him to later become the New York-based artist he is today.
The consistent family travel in Slonem's early life nurtured his relationship with the exploration of nature and its inhabitants. While living in Hawaii, Slonem developed his appreciation for tropical birds, which would evolve increasingly during his time in Central America. Travel to tropical destinations deepened the artist's connection to his muse and fed his inspiration. Slonem finds inspiration from Malcolm Morley, Francesco Clemente, and Roberto Juarez.
In his early works, Slonem paired animals with religious figures. The concept of biodiversity and the different cultures he experiences in his travels are reflected in his art. Eventually, Slonem left out the religious figures to let the animals hold that presence independently.
Aside from nature, Slonem's work is also fueled by a passion for asking his viewers to connect the present to elements of history. This concept is achieved in his popularly known portrait paintings of Abraham Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth II, completed in bright colors.
Slonem's artwork is permanently featured in 300 museums worldwide and internationally showcased recurrently. His work inhabits several prevalent museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Whitney, the Miro Foundation, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Slonem has also been recognized with an extensive list of awards:
2015 Russian Academy of Art Medal of Merit
2013 Louisiana State Arts Council Inaugural Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award, Baton Rouge, LA
2013 The Horticultural Society of New York Award of Excellence, NYC
2009 D&D's Stars of Design, Award in Art, New York, NY
2007 ARTrageous Children's Expressions Project, Gala Dinner and Art Auction Honoree, NY, NY
2006 Urban Stages Award for Fine Art, New York NY
1991 National Endowment for the Arts
1986 MacDowell Fellowship, Peterborough, N.H.
1984 MacDowell Fellowship, Peterborough, N.H.
1983 MacDowell Fellowship, Peterborough, N.H.
1983 Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL
1982 Millay Colony, Austerlitz, NY
1978 Cultural Council Foundation Arts Project, NY
1976 Elizabeth T. Greenshields Foundation, Grant for Painting, Montreal, Canada
1968 Rotary International Exchange Student, Managua, Nicaragua
Upcoming Exhibition at Laura Rathe Fine Art
Laura Rathe Fine Art announces Year of the Rabbit, a solo exhibition by Hunt Slonem across both their gallery locations, first opening in Houston at the River Oaks District on January 13, followed by Dallas at the Dallas Design District on January 14. Leading into the Chinese Year of the Rabbit in 2023, this major two-city presentation pays homage to the inspiration that launched his most popular body of works - his series of Bunnies. Both cities are hosting receptions on their respective opening dates, Houston from 6:00 - 9:00 pm, and Dallas from 4:30 - 7:30 pm. Slonem is in attendance for the two events which each include a book signing and artist talk.
Upon learning that 1951, the year of his birth, fell under the sign of the Rabbit, Slonem was instantly captivated by the emblem, as he recalled its universality as a symbol of luck and productivity through his own early memories. Much like the cyclical nature of a zodiac, he returns to his most recognizable motif time and again, emphasizing the profound impact of repetition on his artistic practice, yet lending each figure a personality through inimitable brushwork. His playful forms are expertly composed through contrasts in color and texture, setting the viewer’s gaze into motion to traverse each painting and find new perspectives in each viewing.
The exhibition also surveys the extension of his signature, neo-expressionist style to a wide range of subject matter, reflective of a childhood spent in multiple cities and countries. From renderings of tropical birds and butterflies to reframed iconic public figures, the eclectic selection of works on display, amidst his renowned Bunny Walls, come together to seemingly collapse distances across both nature and culture.
Year of the Rabbit is on display through February 11, 2023.