There are two impulses in me – one towards riotous sensuality, the other toward order and restraint.
A native New Yorker born in 1922, Solomon Ethe graduated from Columbia University with a masters in Business Administration and went on to have a 15 year career as a key statistician at the Econometric Institute and later at the chemical company, W.R. Grace. During this time, he began to frequent the galleries throughout the city, developing a deep appreciation for modern art, specifically the works of Paul Klee, PIet Mondrain, Joseph Cornell, Joan Miro, Francis Picabia, František Kupka, and Kazimir Malevich. Ethe slowly built his own collection of those artists and used the material as his inspiration as he quietly taught himself to create his own compositions in the evenings after he had finished at his office. He continued his covert education until 1959 when he finally made the decision to quit his job in economics and devote himself full-time to his art.
Within a year, Ethe opened his own gallery in the Flatiron district and became deeply interested in mysticism and spiritualism, exploring the idea of subconscious creation and eschewance of the ego. His works were completely devoid of any material reference and instead, allowed spontaneous creation and a fluid interaction with the canvas. Looking at the art of Solomon Ethe, one feels transported to another realm. His bright yet ethereal color fields and free-form yet contained abstraction reveals the influences of those early inspirations including the geometric work of Mondrian and the colorfields of Miro in style that is metaphysical and uniquely his own.
Throughout his career, Ethe exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions, including at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle (now the Museum of Arts & Design) and Marilyn Pearl Gallery. In 2014, one of Ethe’s canvases, Concatenation, was featured on the cover of the book “Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture,” published by Oxford University Press. He passed away March 29, 2019.
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