Burton Silverman, Out of Time


I have no formula about how or what to paint. They happen largely out of happenstance–an unexpected encounter with something or someone in my environment that suddenly seems anomalous, out of kilter. My concern is not to search for “beauty” but something that allows me to tell the story of how we live and how our work shapes us both physically and psychologically. What do we look like in so many of the circumstances of our real world experiences? In some sense, I feel like a novelist. We are surrounded by many stories told by individuals who are also representative of a group–one of the “many” of us and of our collective experience. When I paint an isolated laborer, he is my stand-in for workers everywhere; the black musician is a marker of a history of our music; and women are not only nudes.
Artwork Info
Date 2020
Dimensions 36 x 30 inches
Medium Oil on linen
Artist Info
Born Brooklyn, NY
Works New York, NY

Reflecting on this Year

I think both the pandemic and my advancing years has directed me to confront what chillingly has been called the “end game.” But it is not the only thing that guides my work even at this time. Nevertheless, the death of a family member was the impetus for the painting I’ve selected. I’ve reversed the phrase perhaps, to “out of one are many.”


Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928, painter Burton Silverman received a BA from Columbia College and studied at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute. Best known for his evocative portraits and figure paintings, he has become one of the first important leaders in the rebirth of realist representational art. His work is represented in 34 museum collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Denver Art Museum, Smithsonian Museum of American Art , and National Portrait Gallery. He is the recipient of numerous honors including 9 awards from the National Academy of Design exhibitions. Over the last 45years he has also been an important teacher both in New York and throughout the US and has taught at the Art Students League and the National Academy School of Fine Arts, He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Academy of Art University in San Francisco