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Jonathan Silver, Drawings and Heads, 1965-1992
Curated by Marion Smit
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 masters and doctoral degrees in art history at Columbia University in the 1960s, Silver began his career as an artist. Enrolling in Columbia’s studio art classes taught by Peter Agostini, Silver’s early work comprised rigorous, focused drawings from observation of the model. His art historical studies and his studio work 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”.