Burton Silverman

Burton Silverman has been painting and exhibiting in galleries and museums for more than 60 years. He has had 36 solo shows across the country including venues in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Maine, and Nashville. His work has appeared in numerous national and international exhibitions including those at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC), the National Academy of Design (New York City), the Mexico City Museum of Art (Mexico), the Royal Academy of Arts (London), and the Butler Midyear Annuals.

Silverman has had four major retrospectives of his work, starting with a 25-year retrospective museum exhibition titled Sight and Insight: the Art of Burton Silverman, held from 1999 through 2000 at both the Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH) and the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (Provo, UT). The dual retrospective Realism Recovered: the Art of Burton Silverman at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art (Tulsa, OK) and Burton Silverman: The Humanist Spirit at Hofstra University Museum in Long Island in 2011, was a recognition of his role as a leader in the resurgence of realism. In between these  major exhibitions, Silverman mounted a 2007 traveling drawing retrospective titled The Intimate Eye: The Drawings of Burton Silverman, which traveled to Brigham Young University Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (Old Lyme, CT). 

In a unique contribution to the art of drawing and to document a historic event that would start the Civil Rights Movement and the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Silverman and Harvey Dinnerstein elected to go to Alabama in 1956 to make a graphic record of the seminal Montgomery Bus Boycott. Together they produced 95 drawings of that event, half of which were acquired for the permanent collection of the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, DE). In 2004, the museum hosted the exhibition Glorious Dignity: Drawings of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman. These drawings were also shown in a 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL) in 2006 and again in the summer of 2018 at the Delaware Museum.  

Silverman is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists, the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Portrait Society of America, and the Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center. The National Academy Museum has honored him with nine prizes, including the Ranger Purchase Award in 1983 and 1965. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art University (San Francisco) in 2002. Silverman will be presented with a Living Legend Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 American Masters exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in October, and in November he will be awarded another Lifetime Achievement Award at the Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) in Miami.  

Silverman’s paintings are represented in 31 public collections, including the Arkansas Arts Center (Little Rock, AR), the Brooklyn Museum (New York City), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain, CT), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC). His work is included in numerous private collections both in the United States and Europe.

A Columbia University graduate, Silverman has lectured in museums and university graduate programs on 20th-century realism since 1993 and written articles for magazines and newspapers on similar subject matter. Silverman’s art has been the subject of articles and reviews in more than 25 venues, and his four books are still sought after on Amazon. His commissioned portraits have included both private and institutional subjects. 

Summarizing Silverman’s place in American art,  Professor Robert  L. McGrath  of Dartmouth College wrote:

“His art may be seen as a kind of radical realism by virtue of its continuing devotion to a humanist vision that has survived modernist dogma of the fifties as well as the austere impersonal canons of judgment imbedded 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.”

 Silverman is represented by Haynes Galleries (Franklin TN and Thomaston ME) and Total Arts Gallery (Taos, NM).