Oli Sihvonen (1921-1991)



Oli Sihvonen, born in Brooklyn, attended Black Mountain College from 1946 to 1948. Sihvonen’s geometric-optical abstractions reflect what he had learned from his mentor Joseph Albers. “Abstraction is the essential function of the human spirit” Joseph Albers declared in his teachings at Black Mountain. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Sihvonen stayed focused and true to these teachings. His entire body of work remained clean, objective and flat, with no gestural or emotional contrivances.

Sihvonen continued his studies under the G.I Bill (1949 – 1950) at Louis Ribak’s Taos Valley Art School, seven years before he became a full time resident of Taos, with the support of a Wurlitzer Foundation grant. By 1950 he worked exclusively with abstract imagery. Many of Sihvonen’s paintings were large compared to those of other Taos moderns who rarely attempted to work much beyond five or six feet. There was little market for paintings on such a public, architectural scale in New Mexico at that time. The broader acceptance in the east of this large scale and the inclusion of his work in a major exhibit at MOMA led him to move to New York in 1967.

Schools of Study

Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, NC 1946-48
The Art Students League, NY 1938-1941
Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, CT 1933-38

Partial List of Collections

The Museum of Modern Art, NY
The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Dallas, TX
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Albuquerque Museum of Art, Albuquerque, NM
Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe, NM

Selected Exhibitions

Pollock-Krasner Foundation, 1988
Yaddo Art Colony Fellowship, 1985
Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, 1985
Yaddo Art Colony Fellowship, 1980
National Endowment for the Arts, 1977
National Endowment for the Arts, 1967

Selected Exhibitions

Hunter College Art Gallery, NY
Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Dallas Contemporary Art Museum, Dallas, TX
The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The Museum of Modern Art, NY

Oli Sihvonen at 203 Fine Art

The following exhibition catalogues, published by 203 Fine Art, feature works by Oli Sihvonen. Please follow the links to view the catalogues on Issuu.

Taos Moderns in Santa Fe | 2019

Taos Moderns Return to The Stables Gallery | 2018

Taos Moderns: Bridging the Gap | 2015

Selected Works in Our Inventory