• Written by Thomas Estey

The Serge Sorokko Gallery (San Francisco, CA, USA), the Russian Academy of Arts and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art present a large-scale solo exhibition of the neo-expressionist American artist Hunt Slonem, one of the most prominent and popular artists in the United States since the late 1970s. His first Russian show includes 34 of his important recent paintings. The exhibition is brought to Moscow by the Serge Sorokko Gallery that played a pivotal role in organizing many of the first cultural exchanges between the U.S. and post-Soviet Russia, including the 1989 Kuznetsky Most exhibition of celebrated New York artists in Moscow.

Slonem was born in Kittery, Maine, in 1951. His grandfather encouraged him to paint; his parents dabbled in painting themselves. His artistic worldview was deeply influenced by his father’s assignments as a naval officer to different posts across America. Living with his family in Hawaii in 1961 opened Slonem’s eyes to the colors and variety of natural history.

The lure of the exotic led Slonem to Nicaragua, where he spent 6 months as an exchange student. After that, he became a student of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, but soon moved to Mexico and attended La Universidad de la Americas in Cholula. Then came Tulane University in New Orleans. In a few years - the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. There Slonem advanced his artistic training and met with some great figures of American art, such as Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, Richard Estes and Jack Levine. During that period, Slonem altered the "i" to an "e" in his family name as a nod to numerology. He moved to New York in 1973, and Manhattan had become his home ever since.

Hunt Slonem's artistic career began in New York, in the mid 1970s. One day, when he was working part-time as a painting teacher, Slonem got a call from his friend: artist Janet Fish told him she was leaving the city for the summer and offered him her studio for free. Slonem instantly agreed. Shortly afterwards, he received a painting grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. His first solo show was held at New York's Harold Reed Gallery in 1977, followed by a project at the prestigious Fischbach Gallery. Success came quickly to Hunt Slonem. Soon he was introduced to people like Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Sylvia Miles, Truman Capote, Monique van Vooren, Henry Geldzahler and Tama Janowitz.

Despite living in the heart of Manhattan, Slonem remained true to his boyhood fascination with exotica. He is affined to the unknown and mystical and still mesmerized by the natural world and its beauty. He has over 100 tropical birds in his studio. Slonem is identified with exotica and is inspired by it.

This fall, Moscow audiences will be treated to the most famous works of Hunt Slonem, his iconic paintings of birds, butterflies, rabbits and flowers – brilliant masterpieces that blend elements of pop art and figurative expressionism. The viewers will be immersed in the artist’s bright and sensual repeated patterns - his technique and obsession.

Since 1977, Slonem had solo shows at museums and galleries all around the world. His works have been exhibited in Paris, Stockholm, Madrid, Amsterdam, Oslo, Cologne, Venice, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. He was shown in the Museo Diocesano d'arte sacra Sant'Apollonia in Italy; the Albany Museum of Art, the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Polk Museum of Art, the Marlborough Gallery, and the Serge Sorokko Gallery in the U.S.; the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in Turkey; Museo de Arte de El Salvador in El Salvador.

Slonem's paintings are included in collections of some of the most prestigious museums and galleries worldwide: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, USA); Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C., USA); the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, USA); The New
Orleans Museum of Art (New Orlean, USA); Joan Miró Foundation (Barcelona, Spain); Musée d'Art Moderne (Paris, France); Würth Museum (Künzelsau, Germany), Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istambul, Turkey) et al.

Hunt Slonem's paintings are popular among well-known Hollywood art collectors, including Sharon Stone, Gina Gershon, Brooke Shields, Julianne Moore, Mandy Moore, and Kate Hudson, among others.

Serge Sorokko Gallery

The Serge Sorokko Gallery, the organizer of Hunt Slonem’s first show in Russia, was established in 1984. It has built a solid reputation on its fine collection of post-war and contemporary art by internationally recognized artists. Located in San Francisco, the gallery features a range of original work - from painting and sculpture to works on paper and photography. The gallery has worked with many established European and American artists such as Damien Hirst, Sol LeWitt, Donald Sultan, Sean Scully, Antoni Tapies, Jannis Kounellis, and Ross Bleckner.

Since 2000, the Serge Sorokko Gallery has been publishing photography and fine art prints. Among the projects the Serge Sorokko Editions has undertaken are the BAM Photography Portfolios I, II and III, featuring the works of Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, John Baldessari, Candida Höfer, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Richard Prince, and Vanessa Beecroft, to name just a few.

Serge Sorokko, gallery founder and owner, is the recipient of many international awards for his contribution to culture, including his appointment as the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, from the government of France. He has been representing Hunt Slonem for more than twenty years. United by a common goal of fostering the arts, The Russian Academy of Arts, the Moscow Museum of Modern Arts and the Serge Sorokko Gallery believe that the Moscow exhibition of Hunt Slonem is an important step in promoting cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in the field of art and culture. The exhibition is accompanied by a hard-cover catalogue in both Russian and English, published by Glitterati, New York.

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