Selected Works from the Collection of Holly Solomon 1968-1981, curated by Thomas Solomon

May 29 — Jun 29, 2019

Marlborough is pleased to present Selected Works from the Collection of Holly Solomon 1968-1981 curated by Thomas Solomon. The exhibition documents new directions in contemporary American art and illuminates how collector, gallerist and early supporter of some of the 20th century’s leading artists, Holly Solomon embarked on building an art collection reflecting one of the most radical periods of change in modern art. 

As an aspiring theatre actress in 1950s New York, Holly Solomon found herself visiting various uptown galleries between casting calls. Her weekly gallery visits to Sydney Janis, Leo Castelli, and Betty Parsons gradually nurtured close relationships with artists, gallerists, and the art community. Her persistence led her to develop a markedly discerning eye, in the process infusing her collection with a daring direction and recognition of a different art aesthetic. 

The 1960s were turbulent times in New York, both politically and personally. The revolutionary nature of the feminist movement and the anti-Vietnam war protests inspired Holly’s interest in new artists that were neither Abstract-Expressionists, Color-Field nor Minimalist. In 1963, Holly Solomon began collecting Pop Art in its formative days in New York City. Her collection was initiated by artworks she truly loved and could afford. Together with her husband Horace, Holly committed to commissioning works by new and underrepresented Pop artists. Holly’s interest lay in both patronage and participation, a distinctive hallmark of her collection was to commission portraits of herself and her family in the artist’s vernacular. For instance, Joseph Kosuth’s Portrait, 1968, part of the Art As Idea As Idea series, is a text definition on photographic plates, mounted on board. The artwork looked and acted as a painting, but challenged the notion that a portrait can be cerebral and not pictorial. Holly’s collection grew to span a generation of young artists and diverse mediums, including in-depth artworks by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, Christo and others of the new Pop-art generation. 

In 1968, Holly began collecting the next generation of Conceptual Art. Her collection included language-based and body-related works by Bruce Nauman and Dennis Oppenheim, along with artists Robert Barry, Alan Saret and Gordon Matta-Clark. In a time of great social distress in the country, Holly felt a moral obligation to contribute something. As a result, Holly opened the first Soho alternative space, 98 Greene Street Loft, with the guidance of Gordon Matta-Clark in 1969. She put a hold on her art collecting to fund the radical non-commercial space, providing artists, poets, and performers a place to work and exhibit without fear or political interference. The spontaneous atmosphere generated in this space gave way to experimentation and discovery for new artists. 

In 1975, the same year New York City declared bankruptcy, Holly opened Holly Solomon Gallery on 392 West Broadway in Soho, New York. Her role as collector and patron evolved into a vital gallerist mission at a time when contemporary art had little commercial support. Holly’s passion and close friendships with artists from 98 Greene Street and 112 Greene Street, another alternative art space, would lead to important solo exhibitions of Gordon Matta-Clark, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Brad Davis, and Neil Jenney. She committed to representing new female artists such as Laurie Anderson, Mary Heilmann, Valerie Jaudon, and Alexis Smith alongside artists Richard Nonas, Kim MacConnel, Joe Zucker, Ned Smyth, William Wegman, and Robert Mapplethorpe, who became her core group of artists. These artists addressed a variety of contemporary issues, including environmental re-use and regeneration, political activism, evolving gender roles, feminist stances, and the bridging of materials associated with craft into high art. 

Featured artists include:
Laurie Anderson, Robert Barry, Mary Heilmann, Valerie Jaudon, Christopher Knowles, Joseph Kosuth, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Kim MacConnel, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Nonas, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Judy Pfaff, Alan Saret, Alexis Smith, Ned Smyth, Robert Therrien, William Wegman, Joseph Zucker


A framed, black and white photobooth strip of Holly Soloman by Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol, Untitled (Holly Solomon), 1963-1964, photo-booth strip (unique), framed, 15 x 6 1/4 in., 38.1 x 15.9 cm
An installation view of works hung on the wall and sculptures on pedestals.
Installation View. Photo: Luke Walker.
A square, text-based, photographic process work by Joseph Kosuth that depicts a definition of the word portrait in white letters on a black background.
Joseph Kosuth, Art as Idea as Idea, 1968, photographic process, 471 × 471 in., 121.9 × 121.9 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
Three framed, black and white, slver gelatin prints by Robert Mapplethorpe of Holly Soloman reclining on a bed while smoking a cigarette. A floral wallpaper pattern that matches the pillows adorns the wall above her.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Holly Solomon (3 Portraits), 1976, silver gelatin prints, 24 × 52 × 2 in., 61 × 132.1 × 5.1 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
A smaller glazed, pink porcelain square is hung directly above a slightly larger glazed, pink porcelain square by Mary Heilmann.
Mary Heilmann, Pink Kachina, 1981, glazed porcelain, 21 × 12 in., 53.3 × 30.5 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
A concrete sculpture by Ned Smyth of an abstracted car sitting on top of a semi-circular base.
Ned Smyth, Car, c. 1975, concrete, 9 1/2 × 20 × 7 1/2 in., 24 × 50.8 × 19 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
An abstract, square, blue-green oil on linen painting by Valerie Jaudon.
Valerie Jaudon, Duck Hill, 1979, oil on linen, 18 1/2 × 18 1/2 in., 47 × 47 cm
A multi-colored, acrylic on cotton work with various patterns by Kim MacConnel.
Kim MacConnel, Chicken Delight, 1978, acrylic on cotton, 83 × 77 in., 210.8 × 195.6 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
Three framed color photopraphs by Gordon Matta-Clark depciting doors and floors.
Gordon Matta-Clark, Through and Through (also called Doors, Floors, Doors) , 1976, three color photographs (3 panels), 20 × 16 in., 50.8 × 40.6 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
An installation view of works hung on the wall, sculptures on pedestals and floor works.
Installation View. Photo: Luke Walker.
A textured, acrylic, cotton on canvas work by Joe Zucker of two hovering grey objects against a dark background, with yellow beams extending in various directions.
Joe Zucker, Natchez vs Hoppin Bop, 1975, acrylic, cotton on canvas, 36 × 48 × 2 1/2 in., 91.4 × 121.9 × 6.4 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
A detail of a mixed media piece by Alexis Smith. Two pieces of yellow paper are side by side. One has an image of a mountainous landscape with two rainbows below several lines of text. The second is a slightly darker yellow with two different size matches below several lines of text.
Alexis Smith, The Glass Bead Game (detail), 1976, mixed media, 121 × 621 × 21 in., 33 × 160 × 7.6 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.
A round, nest-like, metal wire sculpture by Alan Saret is displayed on the floor.
Alan Saret, Untitled, 1969, metal wire, 263 1/4 × 251 × 251 in., 668.6 × 66 × 66 cm. Photo: Luke Walker.


Holly in her office 1977 1 2 1024x485
Holly and roy lichtenstein 1 1024x717