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Burton Silverman, 1928 | Figurative painter

A renowned portraitist and radical Realist, Burton Silverman has remained true to his own style despite his being surrounded by Abstract Expressionism and the contemporary art movement in his native New York City.
Silverman studied at the Art Students League, Columbia University, and Pratt Institute of Art in New York, and later taught at the Art Students League.
His paintings may be found in public and private collections across America.

Style and reputation

Now entering his sixth decade as an artist, Burton Silverman is one of America’s most accomplished and important painters. He is rightly called a “painter’s painter” by his peers, a title which suits him all too well. Silverman's work tends to focus on universalities as opposed to questions of style or genre, such as realism vs. abstraction.
Many artists today paint realistically - rather, of quality and intelligence. In terms of craft, draftsmanship, brushwork, composition, color, tonality, line, form - the formal, “painterly” aesthetic qualities one identifies with the legacy of the past - Silverman holds his own with the great artists who inspired him.

Indeed, it is this inner toughness, a ruthless aesthetic sensibility that sustains Silverman, and to which he returns again and again for inspiration and guidance “In my life’s work”, says Silverman, “I have tried to reunite form (color and composition) with content (realistic and narrative imagery) to arrive at some kind of synthesis of 20th-century formalism with 20th-century sensibilities. I do not believe that the way paint is applied {to a canvass}should be more important than what is portrayed".

For the next 35 years he pursued a dual career as a gallery artist and illustrator, that led to his election to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2001.
In this period his album cover portrait of Aqualung for the rock group Jethro Tull became an iconic image that has lasted over 50 years and is still celebrated today.

Abandoning illustration in 1992, he pursued painting goals that defied governing Modernist aesthetics "In view of the many honors he has been accorded, it may seem odd to describe Burton Silverman (b. 1928) as an artistic underdog, yet the designation actually fits.
Unlike his exact contemporary, the abstract expressionist Cy Twombly, Silverman is neither world famous nor rich.
This situation says less about the immense talents of these two men than it does about the state of American art in the 20th century.

His art may be seen as a kind of radical realism by virtue of it’s continuing devotion to a humanist vision that has survived modernist dogma of the fifties as well as the austere impersonal canons of judgment embedded in the “new realism” of the eighties…. For Silverman form remains inextricably linked to meaning.
Asserting itself throughout his painting is the fluid brushwork and natural coloration that informs the eye while eliciting, alchemically, a compassionate understanding of the human condition.
In the final analysis, it is Silverman’s unflinching vision together with his creative rethinking of tradition, that constitutes his most defiant and enduring artistic contribution" | © Wikipedia.

Burton Silverman’s paintings are represented in more than 20 public collections, including the Arkansas Art Institute; the Brooklyn Museum; the Columbus Museum in Ohio; the Delaware Art Museum; the Denver Art Museum; the New Britain Museum in Connecticut; the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C.; , the National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He has had 31 solo exhibitions in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, and his art has appeared in numerous national and international exhibitions at institutions such as the the National Academies’ Annuals, the Mexico City Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Art in London.
To date, he has won 37 major prizes from his participation in prestigious annual exhibitions and was honored by the National Academy Museum with nine awards, including the Ranger Purchase Award in 1965-1983.


He is the recipient of nine awards from the National Academy of Design Museum including two Henry W. Ranger Purchase Awards. He was awarded a Gold medal from the Portrait Society of America 2004, the Annual Distinguished Artist Award from the Newington Cropsey Cultural Foundation, The John Singer Sargent Gold Medal from American Society of Portrait Artist, 2002, Lifetime Achievement Award The FACE Conference,2018 and an Honorary Doctorate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, 2001.

Il signor Silverman dipinge ed espone come artista raffinato da oltre 60 anni. Ha avuto 36 mostre personali in tutto il paese, comprese sedi a New York, Boston, Filadelfia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Maine e Nashville TN.
È apparso in numerose mostre nazionali ed internazionali tra cui la National Portrait Gallery, la National Academy Annuals, il Mexico City Museum of Art, la Royal Academy of Art di Londra ed il Butler Midyear Annuals.
Ha vinto 38 importanti premi e riconoscimenti da molte di queste mostre annuali ed il National Academy Museum lo ha insignito di 9 premi tra cui i Ranger Purchase Awards nel 1965 e nel 1983 I suoi dipinti sono rappresentati in 32 collezioni pubbliche tra cui l'Arkansas Art Institute, il Brooklyn Museum, il Philadelphia Museum of Art, il New Britain Museum, il Metropolitan Museum of Art. il Denver Art Museum, lo Smithsonian American Art Museum e la Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Il suo lavoro è incluso in numerose collezioni private sia negli Stati Uniti che in Europa.
Dal 1993 insegna in musei e corsi di laurea universitari sul tema dell'arte realista.
Ha scritto articoli in pubblicazioni online e cartacee sullo stesso argomento.