Notes from the Field: A Rare Bird

April 11, 2011

By Cheryl Katz

About twelve years ago while Jeffrey and I were working on our first book, Room Recipes, we had the enviable task of combing through hundreds and hundreds of photographs of interiors, in search of examples of rooms that would support our theories of decoration. Given that digital photography was still in its infancy, we combed the slide archives of Antoine Bootz–a New York photographer known for his arresting photographs of interiors–at his big light box, peering at rooms through focusable lupes pressed to our eyes.

The endless images were a feast and more than a few rooms would later inform our own design work. But it was the photographs of Hunt Slonem‘s house that most piqued our interest. Each room was highly personal, a sense of the inhabitant palpable in Bootz’s photographs, a foreshadowing of a style that is highly desirable now.

Not surprisingly, Slonem is an artist. His paintings, often hung salon style on his walls, combine abstract expressionist techniques with mysticism. Widely known for his paintings of flora, fauna and, most notably, tropical birds, Slonem maintains a personal aviary in which he keeps nearly one hundred rescue birds of various species.

“Monarchs” by Hunt Slonem; photo courtesy of DTR Modern Galleries

“Perched” by Hunt Slonem; photo courtesy of DTR Modern Galleries

“Sahara” by Hunt Slonem; photo courtesy of DTR Modern Galleries

Born in 1951 in Kittery, Maine, Slonem studied art at Vanderbilt, Tulane and the Skowhegan School of Painting before moving to New York in the early 1970s. Later, he apprenticed at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Slonem paints quickly, his palette lush, his canvases highly textured.

His newest work will be on display at the DTR Modern Galleries (where the artist is represented), 167 Newbury Street in Boston, from May 16 through June 25.