Madison Gallery owner/founder Lorna York with artist Hunt Slonem, Photo: Tim Hardy. Artwork: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, 2024. Oil on wood panel, 20 x 16 in. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect.

Madison Gallery Brings 
Hunt Slonem 
to Southern California

by Benjamin Genocchio 

Incollect sat down with gallery founder and owner Lorna York
 to talk about her career as an art dealer and her new exhibition of paintings by artist Hunt Slonem. 

Slonem style: A wall of bunnies, birds and butterflies, Hunt’s Hutch Print fabric on chairs and pillows, Victorian antiques, and a rainbow of glassware. Photo: Charlie Rubin

What is special and unique about Hunt Slonem’s work?

Hunt is a neo-expressionist painter who started showing in the late 1970s in New York when Pop art was popular. Much like Andy Warhol, he paints in series — his series of paintings of birds, butterflies, and bunnies have proved to be the most popular, and everyone loves them. Hunt is unique as an artist and is also a fascinating person. He embraces the ephemeral beauty of nature but with his special sense of spirituality. 

Hunt in full regalia — a paisley brocade jacket — in his Chelsea studio, working on a large-scale piece from his Monsoon series. Photo: Charlie Rubin.


Yes, he is a character! Do you have any fun stories about him? 

When we first met, in 2010, I was inspired by his spiritual journey and honestly overwhelmed as I walked into his 30,000 square foot studio in Chelsea that was filled with 300 types of rare birds along with an abundance of antique furnishings, glasswork, top hats, and more. 


Hunt is a complete artist, and every aspect of his life is influenced by color in a way that is reminiscent of Fauvism and Matisse. He dresses in custom-made colorfully patterned jackets. The way he dresses and the historical mansion homes that he collects and decorates are extensions of his artistic expression and are forms of art themselves. He is a collector of historically relevant period pieces which feed into his artwork and life vision. 

A salon-style installation of works by Hunt Slonem at Madison Gallery. In his homes and in his studio, Slonem displays his work in a similar fashion, often massed in groupings of up to 150 or more. He describes his preference for this type of display as an expression of repetition —a mantra — which is a recurring theme in his art. Photo by Nader Essa. 

And he is doing a book signing at your show opening.

Hunt will be participating in an artist talk at the gallery and will be signing his book “The Spirited Homes of Hunt Slonem.” The book is about how he employs color, how he arranges an abundance of antique furniture, and exhibits his own paintings along with scores of historic portraits in his homes. “My homes are my life’s work – making old houses into a new form of my art,” he says in his preface. “More is more” is a fit adage for what this book reveals.


Hunt Slonem works on view at Madison Gallery, from left: Hunt Slonem, White Ascension Thursday, 2023. Oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in. Butterflies dot the composition across a thick layer of paint, with the artist’s signature crosshatching marks made with the sharpened end of his paintbrush. The marks, he says, were prompted by his realization that he always observed his pet birds through the wire mesh of their cage, which inspired him to replicate that effect. Snowden, 2023. Oil on wood, 10 x 8 in., framed. Blue Man, 2016. Oil, diamond dust on canvas. 72 x 84 in.  Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect. Photo by Nader Essa.


Tell us about yourself and your background and how Madison Gallery was founded.

I have been an art dealer for 40 years. My first gallery was founded in Boston when I was in my early 20s. I opened Madison Gallery, which is named after my daughter, in 2001 and today we have been happily ranked among the top 500 contemporary galleries worldwide.

Hunt Slonem, Countess Prediction, 2023. Oil on canvas, 72 x 84 in. Birds have been a constant source of fascination, inspiration and companionship in the artist’s life since his youth. He has kept as many as 60 birds in the 40-foot aviary of his Brooklyn studio. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect.

And it is a family business, right? 

My daughter Madison joined me after college and is currently a 2nd generation art dealer.  

Madison Gallery Owner/Founder Lorna York, Cedrix Crespel: DISTANCE, a 2023 exhibition for French artist Cédrix Crespel at Madison Gallery. Photo: Debora Cartwright of Del Mar Photographics. Works: Left: Cédrix Crespel, Saillé 2, 2023. Sold, Right: Cédrix Crespel, Saillé 3, 2023. Acrylic on linen, 72 x 52.5 in. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect.

What is your focus as a gallery, and what do you specialize in?

My main focus is on mid-career and established artists, many of whom I represent exclusively in the United States. My program is global, with artists from all corners of the world. Our focus is large-scale abstract expressionism, color field painting, and minimalism to neo-expressionism. Due to our location in southern California, we also have a focus on Latin American artists.


Donald Martiny, Fornax, 2024. Polymer and dispersed pigment on aluminum, 112 x 150 in. A large-scale piece by Donald Martiny, whose work explores gesture and mark-making, wherein the work itself dictates the form. The brush stroke, which in traditional painting is a smaller detail, is the entire work, becoming both sculpture and painting. An upcoming show of the artist’s work, along with that of artist Max Frintop will be exhibited at Madison Gallery this autumn: Ready, Go, Action, September 14th – October 26th, 2024.

Is there an artist or artists you show who you are especially excited about now?

Donald Martiny currently has two large-scale installation pieces in the One World building at the World Trade Center site in New York. He is an artist to watch and I will show him at the Aspen Art Fair this summer. He has developed a special polymer and pigment paint and creates action paintings, fully saturated with pigment, that are both sculpture and painting.

Donald Martiny, Remembered Hills, 2023. Polymer and dispersed pigment on aluminum, 41 x 48 in. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect.

Where are your clients based? 

We have many esteemed art collectors in Southern California who we work with directly at our 4,000-square-foot showroom in San Diego. But Madison Gallery is global — we exhibit at international art fairs and our collectors are now global. We have been online for a decade on Incollect and other platforms where we meet clients. Today we have a really big digital footprint as the next generation of collectors are all searching and buying online. 


Who are some of the new or up-and-coming artists who in your opinion deserve attention?  

A young 36-year-old Colombian artist, Santiago Parra, who has strong auction records in London and Hong Kong. He creates large-scale surrealist paintings made of black marble dust that is thrown onto canvas, resulting in exquisite, emotional, calligraphic markings.

Do you work with interior designers and architects on placing art in homes? 

We have many top designers we work with on their projects. They often come to us when they want to elevate their spaces and their client wants to collect art.

Santiago Parra, Untitled (7393), 2023. Acrylic on canvas, 56.75 x 74.5 in. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect.

How does art transform an interior — in short, why buy art for the home? 

Creativity transforms any space, and art in my opinion is the truest form of creativity. Great art is transformational — on all levels.

Hunt Slonem, Untitled (CER00482), 2017. Oil and acrylic with diamond dust on canvas, 30 x 40 in. Available from Madison Gallery on Incollect. Around 2016, Slonem began to experiment with incorporating diamond dust in his paintings, mixing the substance with resin, then mixed into the pigment for the background, and finally overpainting the detail.

What do you have on the walls in your home? 

My ex-husband and I, while traveling together, would often purchase a piece of art from different places that we went. We bought so much art that one day he said to me 'Why don’t you open your own gallery?' So I am both an avid art collector and an art dealer though over time my tastes and preferences have changed. Moving initially to California I wanted to collect California Light and Space artists, so I started with John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Gary Lang, and his wife Ruth Pastine. Currently, some of my favorite works of art are Radenko Milak’s black and white watercolors and a large-scale abstract that is in my dining room by Max Frintrop. I also have work by Donald Martiny, which I adore.


25 May – 1 July 2024

Opening and book signing: May 25th, 6–8 PM 

320 S. Cedros Ave., Ste. 200

Solana Beach, CA 92075