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Jonathan Silver, Drawings and Heads, 1965-1992

Curated by Marion Smit

Jonathan Silver, 4 1/2” x 7”, PL, 1977

Jonathan Silver, a member of the New York Studio School faculty from 1981-1992, is remembered by his friends, students and admirers as an intense, intellectually uncompromising artist who stayed true to his iconoclastic vision regardless of contemporary artistic tendencies. This show will present a comprehensive view of Jonathan Silver’s drawings and a selection of his sculpted heads. While pursuing a doctoral degree in art history at Columbia University in the 1960s, Silver took studio classes as well. Under the tutelage of Peter Agostini at Columbia, Silver worked on rigorous, focused drawings from the model. His art historical studies and his studio work at established the foundation from which his later work developed. Informed by his in-depth knowledge of Giacometti and cubism, Silver’s early drawings and sculptures explored the formal possibilities of incorporating movement into an essentially inert frontal view of the head. Through the use of counterpoints of positive and negative space created by modeling, assemblage and deconstruction, these early works are imbued with fragility, seemingly on the verge of collapse but always remaining whole. Silver abandoned the abstract theoretical approach of his earlier years in the following decade, for a more personal one. In his later drawings we see writhing figures turning in on themselves, poignantly reflecting his inner struggles with universal themes such as sexuality and mortality. Shortly before his death in 1992, Silver explored mythical themes associated with dying, including a series of drawings of the “Hounds of Hell”.


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