Syd Solomon Solo Exhibition

Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Shoredge, 1980
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
52 x 78 in.
Cavalier Gallery is pleased to announce our representation of the Estate of Syd Solomon in the Southeast. We will welcome the work of this celebrated artist with a collection of 14 paintings on view in our special exhibition space at 292 South County Road in Palm Beach, Florida. This exhibition will honor the remarkable career of American Abstract Expressionist Syd Solomon (1917-2004), with a focus on canvases composed between 1975-1991. The collection of works in this exhibition demonstrates his affinity for color, his innovation of medium, and his lyrical compositional style. The feature exhibition will be on view from February 8-20, 2022, and works from the Estate of the Artist will be available throughout the year in our Worth Avenue gallery.
Solomon’s works on canvas reflect natural elements in an abstract style and are undeniably influenced by his environment and experience. His artistic sensibility proved useful at the dawn of WWII when, before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he voluntarily joined the War effort to serve in the First Camouflage Battalion of the 924th Engineer Aviation Regiment of the US Army. Solomon crafted camouflage designs that were used during the Normandy invasion, and his camouflage instruction manuals were distributed throughout the U.S. Army. These designs were shared with the English camouflage experts, many of whom were artists, including Barbara Hepworth, Roland Penrose, and Henry Moore. Solomon was awarded five bronze stars for his contributions as a camoufleur, an experience that was foundational to his unique approach to Abstract Expressionism.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Light Rise and Fall, 1990
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
48 x 36 in.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Coastalateral, 1991
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
48 x 30 in.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Over City, 1987
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
46 x 33 1/2 in.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Coastal Atmos, 1989
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
30 x 61 in.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Cove Islands Interplay, 1986
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
42 x 66 1/2 in.
Syd Solomon (American, 1917–2004)
Sentinel Seventy Six, 1976
Acrylic and aerosol enamel on canvas
48 x 72 in.
Following the war, Solomon and his wife moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he found great inspiration in the surrounding aquatic environment. Elements of water, aquatic ecosystems, and refractions of light can be seen in his canvases following this move in the late 1940s. In October of 1972, art critic Harold Rosenberg visited Solomon’s studio to see the work he had created in his new house on the beach in Sarasota, designed by the notable architect Gene Leedy, stating, “It is great to see these paintings in this light and in this environment. They are most beautiful in this space.”
Solomon’s work has always been rooted in Florida, with some of his earliest solo and group shows taking place across Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota. During the 1950s and 1960s, Syd Solomon was also involved in a number of shows and activities at The Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida. The mutual impact between Solomon and his life in Florida is evident on the canvas, and we are proud to be exhibiting his work in the state that was so influential to him and his work.
It was at this same time that Solomon began experimenting with acrylic paint and aerosol sprays which put him at the forefront of technical artistic innovations of his generation. Notably, he was one of the first artists to use aerosol sprays and combine them with resists, an innovation influenced by his camouflage experience. In 1956 he was given the Channing Hare Award by Dorothy C. Miller, Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. By 1959 his work continued to gain the admiration of Museum of Modern Art curators Peter Selz and Dorothy C. Miller, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s director John Baur, and many others. At this time, Syd Solomon’s paintings entered the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and over 100 additional museum collections.
These works created between 1975-1991 represent the most notable elements of Solomons artistry. On each canvas we observe the influences of his time as a camoufleur, distinct impressions of the sea, and his passion for the abstraction of his surrounding environment, all of which come together as one. This translucent layering of colors and patterns used to evoke nature distinguishes Solomon’s style in the Abstract Expressionist movement.
Please contact us at [email protected] for more information regarding the upcoming exhibition.
Syd Solomon in his boat, Stump Pass, Florida. c. 1970s Photo Courtesy Solomon Archive
Written by Dr. Lisa Peters/Berry Campbell Gallery
“Here, in simple English, is what Syd Solomon does: 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.”
 –Kurt Vonnegut Jr. from Palm Sunday, 1981
Syd Solomon was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1917. He began painting in high school in Wilkes-Barre, where he was also a star football player. After high school, he worked in advertising and took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the war effort and was assigned to the First Camouflage Battalion, the 924th Engineer Aviation Regiment of the US Army. He used his artistic skills to create camouflage instruction manuals utilized throughout the Army. He married Ann Francine Cohen in late 1941. Soon thereafter, in early 1942, the couple moved to Fort Ord in California where he was sent to camouflage the coast to protect it from possible aerial bombings. Sent overseas in 1943, Solomon did aerial reconnaissance over Holland. Solomon was sent to Normandy early in the invasion where his camouflage designs provided protective concealment for the transport of supplies for men who had broken through the enemy line. Solomon was considered one of the best camoufleurs in the Army, receiving among other commendations, five bronze stars. Solomon often remarked that his camouflage experience during World War II influenced his ideas about abstract art. At the end of the War, he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Because Solomon suffered frostbite during the Battle of the Bulge, he could not live in cold climates, so he and Annie chose to settle in Sarasota, Florida, after the War. Sarasota was home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, and soon Solomon became friends with Arthur Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the museum’s first Director. In the late 1940s, Solomon experimented with new synthetic media, the precursors to acrylic paints provided to him by chemist Guy Pascal, who was developing them. Victor D’Amico, the first Director of Education for the Museum of Modern Art, recognized Solomon as the first artist to use acrylic paint. His early experimentation with this medium as well as other media put him at the forefront of technical innovations in his generation. He was also one of the first artists to use aerosol sprays and combined them with resists, an innovation influenced by his camouflage experience.
Solomon’s work began to be acknowledged nationally in 1952. He was included in American Watercolors, Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. From 1952–1962, Solomon’s work was discovered by the cognoscenti of the art world, including the Museum of Modern Art Curators, Dorothy C. Miller and Peter Selz, and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Director, John I. H. Baur. He had his first solo show in New York at the Associated American Artists Gallery in 1955 with “Chick” Austin, Jr. writing the essay for the exhibition. In the summer of 1955, the Solomons visited East Hampton, New York, for the first time at the invitation of fellow artist David Budd. There, 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. By 1959, and for the next thirty-five years, the Solomons split the year between Sarasota (in the winter and spring) and the Hamptons (in the summer and fall).
In 1959, Solomon began showing regularly in New York City at the Saidenberg Gallery with collector Joseph Hirshhorn buying three paintings from Solomon’s first show. At the same time, his works entered the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut, among others. Solomon also began showing at Signa Gallery in East Hampton and at the James David Gallery in Miami run by the renowned art dealer, Dorothy Blau.
In 1961, the Guggenheim Museum’s H. H. Arnason bestowed to him the Silvermine Award at the 13th New England Annual. Additionally, Thomas Hess of ARTnews magazine chose Solomon as one of the ten outstanding painters of the year. At the suggestion of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the Museum of Modern Art’s Director, the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota began its contemporary collection by purchasing Solomon’s painting, Silent World, 1961.
Solomon became influential in the Hamptons and in Florida during the 1960s. In late 1964, he created the Institute of Fine Art at the New College in Sarasota. He is credited with bringing many nationally known artists to Florida to teach, including Larry Rivers, Philip Guston, James Brooks, and Conrad Marca-Relli. Later Jimmy Ernst, John Chamberlain, James Rosenquist, and Robert Rauschenberg settled near Solomon in Florida. In East Hampton, the Solomon home was the epicenter of artists and writers who spent time in the Hamptons, including Alfred Leslie, Jim Dine, Ibram Lassaw, Saul Bellow, Barney Rosset, Arthur Kopit, and Harold Rosenberg.
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 of Mexico near Midnight Pass in Sarasota. Because of its siting, it functioned much like Monet’s home in Giverny, France. Open to the sky, sea, and shore with inside and outside studios, Solomon was able to fully solicit all the environmental forces that influenced his work. His friend, the art critic Harold Rosenberg, said Solomon’s best work was produced in the period he lived on the beach.
During 1974 and 1975, a retrospective exhibition of Solomon’s work was held at the New York Cultural Center and traveled to the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota. Writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. conducted an important interview with Solomon for the exhibition catalogue. The artist was close to many writers, including Harold Rosenberg, Joy Williams, John D. McDonald, Budd Schulberg, Elia Kazan, Betty Friedan, and Evan Hunter. He also had friends in the music world, including Mitch Miller, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Leiber, and Jerry Wexler. In 1990, the Ringling Museum of Art honored Solomon with a solo exhibition, A Dialogue with Nature. The artist died in Sarasota in 2004 after a ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Recently, Syd Solomon: Concealed and Revealed, a traveling museum exhibition, examined Solomon’s use of camouflage in World War II and how that impacted his abstract paintings. The exhibition opened at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton and travelled to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida in 2019. Syd Solomon: Concealed and Revealed is accompanied by a 96-page hardcover catalogue with essays by Michael Auping (former Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and curator of recent exhibitions of Frank Stella and Mark Bradford), Dr. Gail Levin (expert on Lee Krasner and Edward Hopper), George Bolge (Director Emeriti of the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida), and Mike Solomon, (artist and the artist’s son).
Syd Solomon’s work is held in many important private and public collections, including Adelphi University, Garden City, New York; American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina; Dade County Art Collection, Miami, Florida; Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Florida; Greenville County Museum of Art, South Carolina; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; IBM, Atlanta, Georgia; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; J. M. Kaplan Fund, New York; Kokuritsu Seijo Bijutsukar, Tokyo, Japan; LeMoyne Art Foundation, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida; The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; The City of Miami (mural), Miami, Florida; Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Museum of Fine Art, Clearwater, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida; Naples Museum of Art, Florida; New College of the University of South Florida, Sarasota; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, Florida; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Tampa Art Museum, Florida; Tate Gallery, London; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; Telfair Art Museum, Savannah, Georgia; University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut; Weatherspoon Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas.