Explore The Magic + Whimsy of Hunt Slonem

Staff Report

Friday, March 17th, 2023

A Hunt Slonem Menagerie opened to the public on Friday, March 3, 2023 at the 30th Annual Morris Museum of Art Gala. The exhibition features large and small scale electric neoexpressionist oil paintings of bunnies, butterflies, and tropical birds by renowned artist Hunt Slonem. It remains on display through June 3, 2023. 

“All of us at the Morris Museum are thrilled to host Hunt’s second solo exhibition at the Morris and to bring this bold and beautiful to Augusta,” said Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Museum of Art. 

Born in 1951 in Kittery, Maine, Hunt Slonem is the eldest child of a U.S. Navy submarine captain, was stationed. The family moved often, and Hunt attended schools in Hawaii, Virginia, Connecticut, California, and Washington State. After high school, he enrolled at Vanderbilt University. He spent six months of his sophomore year at the University of the Americas in San Andrés Cholula in Puebla, Mexico, before transferring to Tulane University in New Orleans, where he earned a degree in painting and art history. Afterward, he took courses at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where he came into contact with artists Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, Alice Neel, Richard Estes, Jack Levine, and Al Held. 

In 1973 he moved to New York City, his principal residence ever since. At first, he worked, unhappily, as a painting teacher for the Department of Social Services. Soon, though, the interest and support of artist Janet Fish placed him on the path to success. In 1976 a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation enabled him to paint full-time. That led to his first solo exhibition at New York’s Harold Reed Gallery. It was followed by a major exhibition at the Fischbach Gallery, and his career was well launched. He was a meteoric success and soon became an active participant in New York’s art scene, noted for his friendships with Andy Warhol,Liza Minnelli, and Truman Capote

His work has been the subject of exhibitions at prestigious galleries and museums in the United States and abroad. In this country alone, more than thirty one-person museum exhibitions have been mounted.

His paintings are included in important private and corporate collections all over the world, as well as the permanent collections of more than 250 museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Morris Museum of Art. It has been featured in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Town and Country Magazine and on CBS Sunday Morning and the Real Housewives of New York, among others. 

Though a New Yorker, his ties to the South are strong and enduring. He spends a significant amount of time at historically important properties that he owns in Louisiana: Albania Plantation, on the Bayou Teche, in St. Mary Parish; Lakeside Plantation, built in 1832 in a remote location near the town of Batchelor; and Madewood Plantation, Napoleonville, Louisiana, which was featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade video.   

The Morris Museum of Art, founded in 1985 and opened to the public in 1992, is the oldest museum in the country that is devoted to the art and artists of the American South. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than six thousand works of art, dating from the late-eighteenth century to the present. The Morris is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and on Sunday, noon–5:00 p.m. For more information about the Morris Museum of Art, visit www.themorris.org or call 706-724-7501