Artist: Hunt Slonem
Title: Cockatoo Whisper Sunset Park
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 48” x 48”
Inscription: Signed on back
Condition: Excellent Quality overall with no visible flaws, as it would have left the studio
Documentation: Gallery certificate of authenticity
Famous for his iconic images of bunnies, butterflies and parrots, Hunt Slonem is also known for his proclivity for fashionable attire and an extravagant tropical studio set in the middle of New York. This vast space is home to his work station, a gallery, and storage for hundreds of his works and antiques, but also home to about 60 exotic pet birds that fly around the room freely. “Some people like dogs,” Hunt Slonem once said. “I’m kind of a sucker for birds.” In this improvised artistic jungle, Slonem is surrounded by his flying friends every day and they follow and inspire him constantly. Even his cross-hatching technique resembles the bars of a birdcage in a sense, although the cages he uses to house his feathered pets are always open.
Hunt Slonem’s dedication to his subjects is not arbitrary and represents an important feature in his oeuvre. The same goes for birds, a theme explained in detail in his recent book “Birds”, a catalogue raisonne of sorts. Explaining his fascination with avian subjects, Slonem talks about the evolution of his bird paintings, techniques he uses over time and the effects he wanted to achieve as he reveals his impressionist and experimental approach to painting.
Mesmerized by birds since childhood, Slonem treats them as both an aesthetic and spiritual subject, emphasizing their symbolic meaning. They are, apparently, seen as messengers of gods and carriers of divine messages. And indeed - contemplating upon Slonem’s canvases does happen on two levels - an aesthetic and visceral one, while they are best observed from different distances to experience different focus and, perhaps, a different substance as well.
The sizable “Cockatoo Whisper Sunset Park” canvas represents a celebration of repetition the artist is known for and an ode to cockatoos, one of his favorite avian species. Also, it allows the viewer to get lost in the sea of light blues and yellows, while the eye wanders between shapes and texture. It’s a masterly execution of Slonem’s beloved theme, brought to life by dramatic yellow accents. This recent oil on canvas is signed on the back and arrives in excellent condition.
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Hunt Slonem Biography
Endless herds of bunnies, kaleidoscopic flocks of birds, all bathed in iridescent hues are what makes Hunt Slonem one of the most attractive contemporary painters today.
Known for his signature imagery and unique lifestyle, Slonem has made an international name for himself by evolving his neo-expressionist manner and creating an inimitable body of work distinguished by his cultural interests, aesthetic and spiritual explorations and vibrant color.
Starting each morning drawing bunnies as a gestural warm-up, Hunt Slonem celebrates the meditative component of painting, treating his work as a deeply spiritual process. He fuses pop art, neo-expressionism and late 19th-century “l’art pour l’art” movement to emphasize bright hues, visual refinement, repetitive motions and his signature cross-hatching technique of painting.
Hunt Slonem - Life
Hunt Slonem was born in 1951 in Kittery, Maine as a son of a Navy officer. He moved often during his childhood and his extended stays in Hawaii, California and Connecticut left a deep mark and a proclivity for exotic destinations. He continued to travel during his studies, living in Nicaragua and Mexico, learning to appreciate different cultures and, especially, tropical settings.
He graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a degree in painting and art history and moved to New York in the 1970s. Starting to paint about 1975, he quickly rose to prominence in the contemporary art scene. He was the recipient of several notable grants including the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cultural Council Foundation’s Artist Project, for which he painted an 80-foot mural of the World Trade Center. At this time, he also started his 18-year long relationship with the renowned Marlborough Gallery.
Over the years, Hunt Slonem developed his style into a highly idiosyncratic visual language uniting neo-expressionist and pop art concepts and new techniques.
His work was continually shown in unique, contextual spaces and public ambients as well. Simultaneously, he developed a passion for interior design, working independently and in different partnerships, often for charity.
Birds, Bunnies, Butterflies and Abraham Lincoln in Hunt Slonem’s Work
The influence nature has on the work of Hunt Slonem is best seen in his subject matter.
His bunnies are a reminder of his childhood pets and a remnant of the emotional connection the artist had with them.
Living in Hawaii and Central America, he was overwhelmed with the fascination for tropical birds - animals he not only paints but also collects. His spacious studio features an aviary housing 40-70 exotic birds at any moment!
Along with butterflies, these subjects are iconic to Slonem’s work, representing the mythological and spiritual aspects of his appreciations for bio- and cultural diversity. Simple, aestheticized forms, rarely in focus, flicker and move about the canvas, directing the viewer’s attention to the more contemplative, painterly matter of the work - which is repetition, movement and intense pigments.
Along with the ephemeral beauty of nature, Slonem draws great inspiration for history. His portraits of Abraham Lincoln denote him as a prolific pop artist. Inspired by Warhol’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, Slonem interprets one of the biggest historical figures through repetitive meditation, naming it a “form of worship”.
Hunt Slonem’s Spaces
As history aficionado and an interior designer, Hunt Slonem was drawn to forgotten historic buildings, engaging in their restoration and design. Some of his greatest accomplishments are the restorations of Cordt’s Mansion in Kingston, New York; the Lakeside and Albania plantations of Louisiana; and the Scranton Armory and Charles Sumner Woolworth’s mansion in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Belle Terre property in South Kortright, New York.
An award-winning artist, Hunt Slonem exhibited internationally since the 1970s. His work was shown in many renowned galleries and museums across the United States, Russia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
His pieces make part of over 250 prominent museum collections, including collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Würth Museum, the Miro Foundation, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.