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Artist: Hunt Slonem

Publisher: Glitterati Inc.

ISBN-10: 1943876355; ISBN-13: 978-1943876358

The Neo-Expressionist Hunt Slonem’s latest work, Birds, is an overwhelming panoply of color that radiates the love and esteem that the artist has for those of a feathered kind, especially when heralding from foreign and exotic parts of the global arena (aviary?). With a foreword and prefatory essay written by two close friends and fellow New York socialites, this collection of many of Slonem’s favorite artworks is an outstanding showcase of the painter’s work.

The fondness and affection that both Jacqueline Bograd Weld and Anthony Haden-Guest hold for Slonem are clearly evident in the way that they describe not only the artist himself, but also his work environs. With neither contributor suffering from ornithophobia (evidently being immune to the innate menace lurking in Hitchcock’s The Birds), their introductory pieces reveal much of their own backgrounds and proclivities. Weld’s affinity with those of avian breed has previously been noted (by Susan Cheever) in her having been likened to a parrot in her colorfulness and flamboyancy, while the Cuban-born Laz More has compared her to a hummingbird, “petite, colorful, never at rest, and efficient.” Small wonder that she regards what others might view as a disruptive cacophony of sound as sweet music to the ears in her A Fond Sonore, where she describes Slonem’s studio loft, in which he kept “not only parrots, but macaws, African greys, finches whooshing around in neat cages as big as a room.” The journalist and author Haden-Guest is well-known for his work, True Colours – The Real Life of the Art World, in which he describes the past three decades of the American art scene. Who better to enthuse about the joyful array of exotica that comprise Slonem’s rich and wondrous world, while portraying a sensitivity to the deeper, more spiritual, aspects of his work as well.

The core of Birds is, naturally, the printed and, therefore, readily accessible gallery of Slonem’s paintings themselves, of which all present are provided in bright and blazing color. Even his grisaille is, typically, not merely a monochromatic grey, but a rich and scintillating cobalt blue in the case of Cobalt Monsoon (1992, oil on canvas). The depth of his cross-hatching technique fully allows the textual layers of his paintings to reflect the magnificence and splendid sumptuousness of the birds that he portrays. His delight in their individuality and quirkiness is shown in his attention to their movement and interaction, not only with one another, but with the delighted viewer as well. Slonem’s avian subjects are shown to glory in their striking beauty, as much as his audience is bound to wonder at the explosive vitality of his artistic freedom and strength.

Birds concludes with a chronology of Slonem’s life, provided as a list that is broken up into solo and group exhibitions, as well as an enumeration of the corporate and public collections that hold his work. Mention of his special honors and awards precedes a bibliography of monographs on the artist, as well as the basic details of movies in which his work appears and television programs focused on his illustrious career. Birds is, in short, both a delight for the senses and an informative text that provides key leads to further reading, as well as to explorations of a visual kind.