Thomas Solomon (art dealer)

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Thomas Solomon is an American art dealer, curator, and art collector who owns the Thomas Solomon Gallery in Los Angeles. He works with established 1960s and 1970s conceptual artists while also seeking out and cultivating emerging artists. He also provides professional art advising services through Thomas Solomon Fine Art Advising. He is the son of prominent New York City art collectors Horace and Holly Solomon.

Life and career

Solomon was raised on art. Born in New York City in 1960, his parents, Horace and Holly Solomon, were forward-thinking collectors of contemporary art, particularly that of the emerging artists of the time. His parents, who bought art that inspired and challenged them, supported art makers and art movements including Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Earth/Land Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Narrative Art, New Image Painting, and more.[1] Solomon’s early world was full of art and artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and others of that generation of Pop Art.[2] His early art experiences included sleeping on a Claes Oldenburg soft sculpture of tires in the family dining room, playing with a Charles Simonds clay-and-stick castle sculpture under the piano, and giving art tours of the house to museum groups and other art lovers from around the world. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were named his godparents.

At 15, he started to work with his mother at the Holly Solomon Gallery on West Broadway in SoHo. Through his mother’s gallery, at this early age, he was able to work with artists Alexis Smith, Donna Dennis, Ned Smyth, Judy Pfaff, and Gordon Matta-Clark on projects at the gallery as well as in alternative art galleries and non-art spaces around New York. Examples include Alexis Smith’s show at PS1’s Clocktower Gallery and Gordon Matta-Clark’s project Day’s End on Pier 52. Solomon then went on to study at Sarah Lawrence College, where he graduated with a BA in Art History in 1982.

While in college, Solomon worked as the Assistant Director of White Columns, the well-known New York alternative art space. After graduation, from 1983 to 1986, he became Director and Chief Curator of White Columns, where he organized several hundred productions that included poetry, artists’ readings, music festivals, video programs, solo shows in the White Room, and other art exhibitions. Solomon’s work at White Columns set the course for the organization’s ongoing programming. Taking an interest in what he saw happening on the West Coast, Solomon also showed the work of Los Angeles art school graduates for the first time while he was at White Columns.

In 1986, he curated his first show in Europe, an exhibition of 40 New York artists titled A Brave New World, A New Generation, for the Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark; the exhibition also traveled to the Kunsthalle in Lund, Sweden. After that, he migrated to the West Coast for the emerging art talent and creativity. Once in Los Angeles, he next directed the Piezo Electric (Venice) and Fahey/Klein (Hollywood) galleries.

In 1988, Solomon started his own gallery in a two-car West Hollywood garage down an alley, called The Garage.[3] He later moved to a larger industrial space on Fairfax Avenue in 1991, also in West Hollywood. During this time, he established a program that showcased emerging artists from Los Angeles, paired with well-known and internationally respected artists. This program led to the first solo exhibition of Jorge Pardo, who had just graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, as well as solo shows with Sean Landers, Tim Burton (his first ever solo exhibition in a gallery), Guillermo Kuitca, Franz Ackermann, Robert Barry, Jessica Stockholder, Gordon Matta-Clark, and others. Solomon also brought early attention to Damien Hirst by exhibiting his work. At this time, he also forged an important relationship with the influential and risk-taking philanthropists and collectors, Peter and Eileen Norton, who were supportive of the work Solomon was doing to develop the careers of emerging Los Angeles artists.

Solomon has consulted on art projects that have reached beyond traditional venues, including the Lollapalooza Music Festival in 1991 and PopMart Tour for the band U2 in 1998. He also co-organized The Pat Hearn Benefit Exhibition at the Pat Hearn Gallery in Chelsea, in 1998, and helped establish an emergency medical fund designed for the art community. He worked on exhibitions, both in Los Angeles and in Tokyo, of work by the Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. 1001 Nights was a performance-based collaboration between David Newman (composer) and Amano, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. This project also included an exhibition of Amano’s work in Hollywood that Solomon curated in 1999.

In 2002, he curated an exhibition at the newly established Pasadena Museum of California Art, the inaugural show titled Beyond Boundaries: Bay Area Conceptual Art of the Nineteen-Seventies, which included works by Howard Fried, Tom Marioni, Paul Kos, Terry Fox, Jim Melchert, Lynn Hershman, Tony Labat, and David Ireland.[4] In 2004, with Carlo McCormick, he curated two simultaneous exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and The Queens Museum, titled Subway Series: The New York Yankees and The American Dream and Subway Series: The New York Mets and Our National Pastime' respectively.

Thomas Solomon Gallery

Since 2004, Los Angeles’ Chinatown has been Solomon’s base of operations, starting with spaces at Rental Gallery, then at Cottage Home in a converted movie theater. His latest gallery, which opened in 2009, while he was still involved in Cottage Home, is located on Chinatown’s Bernard Street.

Thomas Solomon Gallery focuses on contemporary art by established as well as emerging artists exhibiting nationally and internationally. Thomas Solomon Gallery's roster of innovative artists includes Robert Barry, Juan Capistran, Bart Exposito, Peter Harkawik, Vishal Jugdeo, Josh Mannis, Dennis Oppenheim, Ry Rocklen, Miljohn Ruperto, Analia Saban, Mitchell Syrop, and Rosha Yaghmai.[5] Recent projects have included exhibitions featuring the work of Gordon Matta-Clark and Nam June Paik.[6]

Thomas Solomon Fine Art Advising

Thomas Solomon Fine Art Advising is a Los Angeles-based art consulting practice, run by Thomas Solomon, offering professional services including collection development, site-specific art commissions, and institutional consulting. The firm works with an array of clients including private collectors, museums, auction houses, charitable foundations, and corporations. With demonstrated expertise in Modern Art and Contemporary Art, the firm specializes in working with notable conceptual and emerging artists.

Solomon extends the Thomas Solomon Gallery's presence to an international audience through quality fine art fairs including Frieze Masters (London), Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Cologne, Expo Chicago, Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the Dallas Art Fair, LOOP Barcelona, NADA Miami, and Paris Photo Los Angeles.

In an advisory capacity, from 1999 to 2001, Solomon helped organize The Peter and Eileen Norton Museum Donations Program that bestowed over 1,000 artworks to 32 museums around the world. Solomon also consulted for Peter Norton on a high profile $26.8 million Christie’s two-part auction in November 2011 and March 2012.[7] As a consultant, he also curated LA25, which featured the work of 25 emerging Los Angeles artists, for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.[8] The project culminated in a catalog and 2008 exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in Hollywood.[9]


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