Artist: Oli Sihvonen

Wright is proud to hold the auction record for Oli Sihvonen, the Finnish-American painter best known for his hard-edge abstract paintings featuring color and geometric shapes. 
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5 Things to Know About Oli Sihvonen

Oli Sihvonen studied at Black Mountain College under Josef Albers from 1946–1948

He is one of the Tao Modernists

His work was included in the legendary exhibtion, The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Echocardiograms of Oli Sihvonen's heart were the basis of artist Allan Graham's Heart Sutra series of 1995

Sihvonen painted prolifically throughout his lifetime

Sihvonen's loving attention to the precise millimeter and the precise hue on the spectrum pays off in a floating and exciting calm and emotion; the picture is in motion, the colors leave their forms and come back changed. The canvas seems to generate its own light, not otherwise than in a bright noonday sun or in a mysterious moonlight; there is a fullness of light.

Paul Goodman

Oli Sihvonen 1921–1991

The Finnish-American painter, Oli Sihvonen is best known for his abstract paintings featuring geometric shapes. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1921, Sihvonen studied art at the Norwich Art School (now known as Norwich University College of the Arts) then at the Art Students League of New York from 1938-1941. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he continued his arts education at Black Mountain College under Josef Albers, who would be a major influence and source of inspiration throughout his career, alongside Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage. Joan Couch, a tapestry artist, was also among his classmates; she and Sihvonen married in 1947. Finally, from 1949-1950, he studied in New Mexico at Louis Ribak’s Taos Vallery Art School.

Sihvonen taught at Hunter College and Cooper Union in New York before returning to Taos, New Mexico in the late 1950s where he became associated with the Taos Modernists. By the early 1960s he was becoming well-known on the east coast; his work was included in seminal exhibitions including Geometric Abstraction In America at The Whitney Museum of American Art (1962) and The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1965). Sihvonen returned to New York in 1967 where he continued to paint.

Throughout his career, Sihvonen received several awards and grants including two from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967 and 1977. His artwork can be found in the permanent collections of museums such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Art Institute of Chicago, to name only a few.

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