Hunt Slonem Biography

Hunt Slonem




Hunt Slonem was born July 18, 1951in Kittery, Maine.  Slonem is an artist who combines abstract expressionism and representational imagery. He 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.  His fascination with exotica can be traced to his experiences as a child in Hawaii and as a foreign exchange student in Managua, Nicaragua.  Slonem received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University of Louisiana in 1973 and studied painting at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1972.


Since 1977, Slonem has had over 150 solo exhibitions. Over 75 museums internationally include his work in their collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, both in New York where he currently resides.


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 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.