Hunt Slonem

Original Polyphemus Butterfly Painting Contemporary Art

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Artist: Hunt Slonem
Title: Polyphemus
Medium: Oil on wood
Size: 42.5” x 32”
Edition: Original
Inscription: Signed on back
Year: 2019
Condition: Excellent Quality overall with no visible flaws, as it would have left the studio
Documentation: Gallery certificate of authenticity


Butterflies are one of the most distinguishing subjects in the work of Hunt Slonem. An idea and image of a beautiful, exotic butterfly stem from his childhood, recurring throughout his body of work. The colors and movement of this dainty flying insect are incorporated into the aesthetic of Slonem’s paintings, while their symbolism underpins the spiritual component. At the same time, butterfly works are full of movement and flickering light and represent a splendor of neo-expressionist gestural painting.

Although Slonem is usually inspired by exotic species, rarely we can differentiate one kind of butterfly from another in his paintings. They are generally out of focus and serve to bring out the color, often finished with deeply engraved strokes. That is why “Polyphemus” is an exception.

This gallery-size painting represents a neo-expressionist etude par excellence, indicating the profound Slonem’s knowledge of composition and color.

Its name refers to one of the widespread North American species of silky moth, the Polyphemus moth, a large, palm-sized insect that features different shades of gold, light pink and grey. A subtle nod to his North-American legacy, Hunt Slonem uses this extraordinary creature as a base from which he explores neo-expressionist brushwork, gesture and primary color palette. The result is a wonderful canvas that gives an impression of a much chromatically richer work while disallowing the eye to rest. The size of the inspirational moth is mirrored in the painting’s dimensions, while the composition both animates and anchors the work. Its masterly treatment of paint, iconic subject and the use of color make this piece a museum-quality painting.

“Polyphemus” was created in 2019, signed on the back and in excellent condition. It comes framed in a characteristic, bronze empire-style frame.


The piece comes in professional, safe packaging. Certificate of Authenticity included.

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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.

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