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Hunt Slonem

American  •  b. 1951

Biography

Brooklyn-based artist Hunt Slonem grounds his work in the act of painting. Having spent a lot of time in various parts of the world—including Hawaii, California, Louisiana and, most importantly, Nicaragua—because of his father's job as navy officer, Slonem uses the sunny landscapes of his various homes to bring tropical hues into his work. He is most famous for his meshy representations of tropical birds, but overall, Slonem takes wildlife as focal subject and features the same animal countless time within a single large-scale oil painting.

It's the repetition in Slonem's work that makes his paintings so imposing. As the years progress, Slonem's depictions of nature do too. In the past, his paintings featured wild animals but, since the turn of the century, Slonem has started to explore notions of domestication, encaging his animals within nature much like humans are encaged within society. Other popular motifs that Slonem has painted in repetition include bunnies, butterflies and flowers.

Insights

  • Slonem often works with a bird on his shoulder and shares his studio with countless birds of various species.

  • In 2015, Slonem received the Medal of Merit, considered the highest civilian decoration in the United States awarded by the President himself.

  • Slonem's work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others.

"I'm making colors bleed into each other. I'm revealing the under-painting. I'm making these marks to allow the light to come through."

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