Oli Sihvonen

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Oli  Sihvonen



This is the last Biography written by Oli in 1990

My education in art began at the Norwich Free Academy (Connecticut), and continued at the Art Students’ League in 1938. After service in the U.S. Army during World War II, my studies were resumed in 1946 at Black Mountain College, primarily with Joseph Albers.

In 1954 – 1956 I taught drawing and design at Hunter College in New York; leaving that position to accept a Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico for a year. After the initial year I remained in Taos with my family, exhibited regionally and taught at the University of New Mexico and at the University of Denver.

My paintings were first shown in New York in 1962 at Betty Parsons Gallery and in 1963 in the Whiney Annual and in a one man show at the Stable Gallery. The Museum of modern Art acquired my painting “Dialogue” from the “ Retrospective Eye” exhibition in 1965. The following year I was awarded the purchase prize at the Corcoran Gallery “ Biennial 1966 “ and the Whitney and the Chase Manhattan bank acquired paintings. In 1967, on Henry Geldzahlers’ recommendation, I received a grant of $ 5,000. from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s I sought prospects for Art in Public Places through architects’ offices. The Midland Federal Bank in Denver commissioned a painting in 1967. Returning to New York to live, my work was in the important exhibition “ Plus X Minus, Today’s Half Century” in 1968. A committee selecting artists for what became named “ The Empire State Collection” commissioned a large work for an elevator lobby in the South Mall complex in Albany. Another large commission from Walter Netsch, a partner at Skidmore, Owings, Merrill (Chicago) in 1970 – 1971. This painting is in the Library Building at Northwestern University.

In October 1975 I suffered a serious heart attack, followed with complications, which caused a real hiatus in my career. I was advised to avoid strenuous and stressful activity. Despite these limitations in 1977 I accepted a visiting artist position at Louisiana State University. I taught and exhibited there and continued my sojourn, away from New York City, followed by five months in New Mexico. Work from this time was shown at Roswell Museum and then at the Hoshour Gallery in Albuquerque.

I was a guest at “Yaddo” in the summer of 1980 and 1985. During these years I found alternative medical therapy that gradually improved my health and I have been working full time since then.

The Craig Cornelius Gallery in New York and the Hoshour Gallery in Albuquerque collaborated on a mini retrospective for me in 1983. More recently I have shown with the American Abstract Artists. First, in 1986 at the Bronx Museum and in 1987 at the City Cultural Center. “ Selections from the A.A.A.” are currently touring Eastern Europe until 1992, under the United States Information Office auspices.

In October of 1987 I was awarded a one year grant by the Pollack – Krasner Foundation. I have had a marvelously productive year. Paintings with a new focus and “look’ have emerged.

Oli Sihvonen



Brooklyn, NY, 1921
New York, NY, 1991


2014            Oli Sihvonen, “In Motion”, David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2012            Oli Sihvonen: Energy Fields, James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
2011            Oli Sihvonen: The Final Years, Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM
2007            Ellipse Paintings from the 1960's, James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
2005            Sihvonen 3x3 Paintings:1975-77, Sandra Gering Gallery, New York, NY
                   Sihvonen, Paintings from the 1980S, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2004            3 x 3 Paintings, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2003            Sandra Gering Gallery, New York, NY
                   Sihvonen, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2002            Sihvonen, Ellipse Paintings: New Mexico, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2001            Oli Sihvonen, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1983            Retrospective (1960s and 1970s), Craig Cornelius, New York, NY
1983            Retrospective (1960s and 1970s), Hoshour Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
1980            Katonah Gallery, (Paintings, 1977), Katonah, NY
1979            “Sihvonen Paintings” (from the Midland Federal Collection, Denver), Sangre De Cristo Arts Council, Pueblo, CO
1978            Hoshour Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
1977            Union Gallery, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
1977            Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
1969            Burpee Museum of Fine Art, Rockford, IL
1969            Atelier Chapman Kelly, Dallas, TX
1967            Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, TX
1963            Stable Gallery, New York, NY
1962            Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY


2010            Bilder über Bilder, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig - MUMOK, Vienna, Austria
2008            MAXImin, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, Spain
2007            Antes y después del minimalismo, Museu d ´Art Espanyol Contemporani, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2005            Outside Europe, Aus der Sammlung DaimlerChrysler, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
                   Modern and Contemporary Art, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe NM
2004            Minimalism and After III - Neuerwerbungen, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
2003            “TAOS MODERN, Postwar Abstraction in New Mexico”, Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2001            PERFECT 10: Ten Years in Soho, Gering & López Gallery, New York, NY
2000            Allan Graham - As REAL as thinking (including paintings by Oli Sihvonen), Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
1997            “Eyedazzlers” UNM Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
1994-1996 “ Still Working”, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC                    The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
                   The New School of Social Research, New York, NY
                   Virginia Beach Center for the Arts,Virginia Beach,VA
                   The Fischer Art Gallery at U.S.C., Los Angeles, CA
                   The Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR
1991            Hunter College Art Gallery, Selections 1991, New York, NY
1988            Selections from American Abstract Artists, traveling exhibit to Eastern Europe, auspices United States Information Agency
1987            American Abstract Artists, New York City Cultural Center, New York, NY
                   The Arts at Black Mountain College, Bard College and Grey Art Gallery, New York, NY
1986            American Abstract Artists, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY
1983            Craig Cornelius, New York, NY
1971            Selected Paintings from the Chase Manhattan Bank Collection, Finch College, New York, NY
1970            “Faculty Artists 1960-1970”, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
1968            “Plus X Minus, Today’s Half-Century”, Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY
1968            Society for Contemporary Art, 28th Annual Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
                   National Council on the Arts Award Winning Artists, Southeast and Southwest, Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, TX
1967            “Whitney Annual”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
                   “Recent Acquisitions”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
                   30th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Purchase Award
                   “Four Dallas Collectors”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX
1966            “Recent Acquisitions”, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1966            “16th Exhibition of Southwest Prints and Drawings”, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
1965            “The Responsive Eye”, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
                   “40 Key Artists of the Mid-20th Century”, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
                   20th “Artists West of the Mississippi” Invitational, Colorado Springs Fine, Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO
1964-1966 “Purchase Exhibition” University of New Mexico Art Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
1964            “The New Formalists”, University of Michigan Museum or Art, Ann Arbor, MI
1963            “The Formalists”, Washington Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington, DC
1962            “Geometric Abstraction in America”, Whitney Museum, New York, NY
                   “Americans 1962”, Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VI
1961-1963 Denver Annual, “19 Western Artists”
1956 - 1966 Exhibited at; Galleria Escondida and The Taos Art Association Galleries, Taos, NM
                   The Raymond Johnson Gallery, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
                   The Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM


Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Rockefeller University, New York, NY
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Ashville Art Museum, Ashville, NC
Albuquerque Museum of Art, Albuquerque, NM
Black Mountain College Museum, Ashville, NC
University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Brandeis University, Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA
Burpee Museum, Rockford, IL
Harwood Foundation Museum of Art, Taos, NM
University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor, MI
John Newberry Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
New York State Art Collection, Albany, NY
Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
Worchester Art Museum, Worchester, MA
Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA


JP Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, Athens, Copenhagen
Citibank, New York, NY
Diamler Art Collection, Germany
General Insurance Corporation, Greenwich, Connecticut
Midland Federal Savings and Loan, Denver, CO
Miidland Marine Bank, Buffalo, NY
The Taubman Company, Detroit, Michigan
United Mutual Savings Bank, New York, NY
Amstar Corporation, New York, NY


1988            Pollack Krasner Foundation
1985            Yaddo Art Colony Fellowship
1985            Adolph & Ester Gottlieb Foundation
1984            “Who’s Who in America”
1980            Yaddo Art Colony Fellowship
1977            National Endowment for the Arts, Grant
1967            National Endowment for the Arts, Grant
1956            Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, Taos, NM


1973            Citibank, New York, NY
1970            Northwestern University, Core and Research Library, Evanston, IL
1969            New York State Agency Building, Albany, NY
1966            Midland Federal Savings Bank, Denver, CO


1949            Iinstituto Poletechnico, Mexico City, Mexico
1946 - 1948 Black Mountain College, North Carolina
1938 - 1941 The Art Students League, New York, NY
1933 - 1938 Norwich Art School, Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, CT


1942-1945 US Army, 603rd Engineers Camouflage and Deception work European Theatre 1944-45
1952            Unifilms Inc. 146 East 47th St. New York, NY

Employed as film apprentice; promotion to Assistant Director, job consisting of design and construction, fieldwork in preparation of locations, casting, script breakdown, studio and location schedules. Resigned to continue painting and teaching.


1976            Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; advanced painting and drawing
1965            University of Denver, Denver, CO; advanced painting and drawing
1964            University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; advanced and intermediate painting and drawing
1954-1956 Hunter College, New York, NY, beginning and advanced painting and drawing, two- and three-dimensional design, and educational methods
1955-1956 Cooper Union Art School, New York, NY; basic design and color
1955-1956 University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont; painting and drawing
1954-1955 Willimantic State Teachers College, Willimantic, CT Summer Arts and Crafts Workshop, basic design and color for Teachers and craftsman
1952            Institute of Contemporary Arts, Washington, DC; painting and drawing, basic design, children’s art workshop
1950-1952 Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC; art and shop classes taught fifth grade one year
1947            Norwich Free Academy Art School, Norwich, CT Basic design and color