Syd Solomon | Swingscape | Paintings from the 1970s


Info: Syd Solomon | Swingscape | Paintings from the 1970s, Apr 23 - May 23, 2015



NEW YORK, NEW YORK, April 23, 2015 –Berry Campbell Gallery is pleased to announce Syd Solomon Swingscape | Paintings from the 1970s featuring a curated selection of thirteen paintings highlighting this important period in the artist’s career. Solomon is renowned for his unique use of color, innovative application of paints, and influential roles in the art communities of East Hampton, New York, and Sarasota, Florida. The exhibition opens on Thursday, April 23 with a reception from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1917, Solomon had a long and varied training as an artist. After high school, Solomon was enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1935 to 1938. He soon joined the war effort prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and he was able to hone his artistic skills by creating camouflage to disguise and protect the airfields being built by his battalion. Solomon often remarked that aerial reconnaissance during World War II influenced his ideas about abstract art. 

Having suffered frostbite during the Battle of the Bulge, Solomon chose to settle with his wife, Annie, in the warm climate of Sarasota, Florida, home to the Ringling Museum of Art. At the suggestion of Alfred Barr, then director of the Museum of Modern Art, the Ringling Museum began collecting Solomon’s paintings. His were the first paintings by a contemporary artist to become part of the museum’s permanent collection. This began a long association between Solomon and the Ringling Museum.

In 1970, Solomon, along with architect Gene Leedy, one of the founders of the Sarasota School of Architecture, built an award-winning precast concrete and glass house and studio on the Gulf in Sarasota. Due to its siting, his home functioned much like Monet’s home in Giverny, France. Open to the sky, sea, and shore with inside and outside studios, these active environmental forces greatly influenced his work.  In these works from the 1970s, Solomon sought to evoke the forces of nature through abstract expressionist gestures, and he is best known for his challenging color, which—while including the palette of his peers—extended the range to teals, pinks, and sea greens, among others. This spectrum of color was owed to the “polaroid,” a term he coined to describe the color he experienced working in natural environments on Long Island’s East End and Florida’s Gulf Coast.   His friend, the art critic Harold Rosenberg, said Solomon’s best work was produced during the period he lived on the beach.

From the late 1950s to the late 1980s, Syd and Annie Solomon were dividing their time between East Hampton, New York and Sarasota, Florida. Solomon met and befriended many of the artists of the New York School, including Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, James Brooks, Alfonso Ossorio, and Conrad Marca-Relli.  During 1964 and 1965, Solomon created the Institute of Fine Art at the New College in Sarasota, Florida. He is credited with bringing many nationally known artists to Florida; Larry Rivers, Philip Guston, James Brooks, and Conrad Marca-Relli were among the artists who taught at the Institute. Later Jimmy Ernst, John Chamberlain, James Rosenquist, and Robert Rauschenberg settled near Solomon in Florida. 

Solomon was known as visionary in his use of new mediums. Victor D’Amico, the first Director of Education for the Museum of Modern Art, recognized Solomon as the first artist to use acrylic paint in the 1950s.  In addition, he was one of the first artists to use aerosol sprays and resists, a technical ability that allowed for groundbreaking achievements in abstract painting.

Throughout Solomon’s career his works were acclaimed for their visionary and romantic expression.  Kurt Vonnegut remarked in Palm Sunday (1981), “He meditates.  He connects his hand and paintbrush to the deeper, quieter, more mysterious parts of his mind – and he paints pictures of what he sees and feels down there.  This accounts for the pleasurable shock of recognition we experience when we look at what he does.”  Peter Pollack, President of the American Federation of Arts and Curator at the Art Institute of Chicago agreed: “His mastery of technique and individual style is comparable to the emotional charge he inculcates in his paintings, often conveyed to the spectator evoking a similar emotional response.”

Solomon won numerous national awards including Painting of the Year from the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1961 and the 13th New England Annual awarded by the Guggenheim Museum’s H. H. Arnason. Thomas Hess of Art News also chose Solomon as one of the 10 outstanding painters of the year in 1961.  Solomon participated in numerous national exhibitions, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the National Academy of Design, New York.

Over the course of his career, Solomon has had over fifty solo exhibitions and been included in numerous museum exhibitions.  Syd Solomon's work is held in numerous private and public collections around the world including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

The exhibition will run through Saturday, May 23, 2015.  Berry Campbell Gallery is located in the heart of the Chelsea Arts District at 530 West 24 Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10011. For information, please contact Christine Berry or Martha Campbell at 212.924.2178 or