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"The Intimate Eye: Drawings by Burton Silverman"
2006-07-29 until 2006-11-25
BYU Museum of Art
Provo, UT, USA United States of America

For four decades, New York City painter and illustrator Burton Silverman has created life drawings that communicate the vitality and individual personality of their subjects and achieve an intimacy that is candid and revealing. A new exhibition at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, “The Intimate Eye: Drawings by Burton Silverman,” on view from July 29 through Nov. 25, 2006, showcases 33 life drawings that span Silverman’s distinguished career. “The idea of drawing has been historically thought of as one of the most essential requirements in making a painting, and therefore essential to the training of the artist,” Silverman says. “My first and earliest love was in making a line on a piece of paper. It has stayed with me over these many years and remains a fixture in all my work. Drawing is also my first and almost uncensored feelings about the visual world around me and bears witness to my sense of self in that world.”

Silverman’s art is distinguished by his keen sense of contemporary urban life and his ability to elicit the essential character of his subjects through intuitive observation and skilled interpretation. His portraits relate to the finest traditions of European and American realism while providing penetrating insights into the human condition. Silverman’s work has withstood the test of time, and more specifically the onslaught of various anti-figurative movements during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

“Very early on in my life, I fell in love with the landscape of the human face, where all the emotional states of life are to be found, and that love affair has not faltered,” Silverman says. “I am particularly affected by images — of the unspectacular and the unheralded — of people who have, for many years now, been left out of the loop. In a world adumbrated by the sensational — shock and celebrity — the immediate texture of our lives needs to be seen again for the beauty it can provide.”

Silverman’s work has appeared in the “Profiles” segment of “New Yorker Magazine,” as well as on the covers of “Time Magazine,” “Newsweek” and “New York Magazine.” He has exhibited in galleries and museums since 1956 and has had 30 solo shows in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and in international venues such as the Mexico City Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Art in London. 

In addition to the many prestigious awards Silverman has received over his lifetime, he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1990, and was awarded the Geismann Memorial Invitation Retrospective Exhibition in 2005. His paintings are represented in more than two dozen public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Delaware Art Museum, the Columbus Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Silverman is represented by Gallery Henoch in New York and the Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco. His home and studio are in New York City.

“The Intimate Eye: Drawings by Burton Silverman” will be on view in the Horne Study Gallery on the museum’s lower level during regular museum hours. Admission is free.

This exhibition is co-organized by the BYU Museum of Art and the Department of Visual Arts in the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU and is made possible in part by a grant from the Laycock Center for the Creative Collaboration in the Arts. In addition to the BYU Museum of Art, the exhibition tour currently includes the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the release of a new book of Silverman’s drawings, “The Intimate Eye: The Drawings of Burton Silverman.” This 106-page, 11-by-13-inch facsimile of Silverman’s original drawing book contains 50 color reproductions accompanied by handwritten notes that explain the artist’s motivations, techniques and general observations about the art of drawing.


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