Hunt Slonem's Artist Aviary


Friday, February 24, 2012

Manhattan’s West Side has plenty of artist studios, but none quite like Hunt Slonem’s. Kurt Andersen recently dropped by the artist’s eccentric space, which is housed on the third floor of a football field-sized warehouse. It’s stuffed with plaster busts, chandeliers, neo-gothic furniture, Persian rugs, porcelain tchotchkes, and a greenhouse worth of lush foliage.

“You know, why did Rousseau live in Paris and paint tigers?” Slonem asks. “Recreating it is harder.”

Then there are the birds — lots of them, inside cages and out. (One cockatoo tried to eat our microphone.) Slonem’s birds are an endless source of inspiration for the artist who spent part of his childhood in Hawaii and later lived in Nicaragua. When he’s not painting tropical birds or butterflies Slonem turns to another favorite subject — rabbits.

“I discovered one night, late in a Chinese restaurant, that I’m the sign of a rabbit — and I sort of start the day doing these little pieces,” he says. Set in Victorian-era frames salvaged from a local flea market, the rabbit paintings cover an entire studio wall. “I hate leaving a wall bare,” says Slonem. “It makes me nervous.”

For years, Slonem has been experimenting with a unique method of texturizing his works which he calls “cross-hatching.” He scrapes through multiple layers of wet paint using the whittled end of a paint brush handle. 

“It has a feeling of a tapestry, it’s like weaving,” he tells Kurt. “I’m making colors bleed into each other, I’m revealing the under-painting. I’m making these marks to allow the light to come through, basically. So you’re seeing about five levels of paint, instead of one.”

Slonem lives large and approaches his life as its own work of art. He revels in pleasure, in color, in excess of all kinds. As far as he’s concerned, “Shouldn’t that be what life is about?”


Video: Kurt Andersen visits Hunt Slonem's studio

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Produced by:

Derek John and Josh Rogosin

Comments [5]

Herb Morgan

I am fortunate to have been gifted by Mr. Harrison Morgan and Mr. Guy Clark of several of Mr. Slonem's coffee table editions, hosted by Mrs. Connie Nelson at a luncheon where Mr. Slonem where gave a brief talk in the Vero Beach Museum of Art.
This lovely presentation on video give one the opportunity to see and enjoy Mr. Slonem in much the same one would stand in awe of his art. If you will yet another aspect of Hunt Slonem, now we see him as a work of art.


Mar. 02 2012 10:25 AM
Louis J. Shine from Yonkers, NY

Just a knitpick, Kurt. There are two other drive thru Mc Donalds in Manhattan. 125th ST & Broadway and 141st(?) and A.C. Powell
Blvd. I also worked next door to the one on West 34th st.,across
from Mr. Slonem's loft. Another blow for miniscule manhattan accuracy.
Great show Keep up the good work.

Feb. 26 2012 05:00 PM
Sonia Young

hunt's work is pure aesthetic genius - he is a superb colorist - i love his paintings because they reflect a happy spirit and the reflection of Nature's joy and delights, The Purple Lady, Sonia Young

Feb. 25 2012 02:33 PM
Piagirlie7 from Boston

Birds, extraordinary colors, they fly, reminding me of when I was a dancer & flew through the air, are inspiration for my work too - nature, can't beat it! And what a studio!

Feb. 25 2012 11:17 AM
Philip from Pennsylvania

This is the type of stuio I have dreamed of. And I love birds also.
Slonem has created his fantasy....and he lives it to the hilt.

Way to go!!!

Feb. 25 2012 10:03 AM

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