||This article lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (November 2010)|
Deborah Solomon (born August 9, 1957, New York City) is an American art critic, journalist and biographer. She writes primarily for The New York Times and her weekly column, "Questions For," ran in The New York Times Magazine from 2003 to 2011. She is currently the art critic for WNYC Public Radio, the New York City affiliate of NPR.
Early life and education
Solomon was born in New York City and grew up in New Rochelle, New York. Her parents, Jerry and Sally Solomon, owned an art gallery. She was educated at Cornell University, where she majored in art history and served as the associate editor of The Cornell Daily Sun. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1979. The following year, she received a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Solomon began her career writing about art for various publications, including The New Criterion. For most of the 1990s, she served as the chief art critic of The Wall Street Journal. She has written extensively about American painting, and is the author of several biographies of American artists, including Jackson Pollock and Joseph Cornell. Solomon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2001 in the category of biography.
On January 5, 2003, Solomon made her debut as the New York Times Magazine's "Questions For" columnist. In 2010, Solomon was ranked by the Daily Beast as one of "The Left's Top 25 Journalists.". Solomon "is brilliantly transforming the interview format into a form of criticism," according to a critic for New York Magazine.
Asked to characterize her political beliefs, Solomon once said, "I'm not dependably pro-anything, except pro-thinking. I ask the questions that any curious person would if they had the chance to go around and converse with the architects of our policies and culture." Over the years, her column has featured interviews with many key Republicans, including Karl Rove, former attorneys general John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, George Shultz, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Sandra Day O'Connor.
92nd Street Y controversy
On November 29, 2010, at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Solomon interviewed actor Steve Martin about his new novel, An Object of Beauty, which is set in the art world. In response to emails received in real-time by the Y staff from viewers of the interview, a note was dispatched to Solomon on-stage, telling her to shift the conversation from art to Steve Martin's film career.
The next day, the Y issued an apology to audiences, along with a promise of a refund, prompting much controversy. Solomon told The New York Times, "Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York, at the 92nd Street Y, would be interested in hearing about art and artists. I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it's like to host the Oscars or appear in It's Complicated with Alec Baldwin. I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art."
In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Martin praised Solomon as an "art scholar" and said he would have rather "died onstage with art talk" than with the movie trivia questions the Y had chosen for him.
Solomon is married to Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious-disease specialist and the Deputy Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. They have two sons, Eli Sepkowitz and Leo Sepkowitz.
- Jackson Pollock: A Biography, Simon & Schuster, 1987, ISBN 978-0-8154-1182-6
- Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997, ISBN 0-374-18012-1
- American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013, ISBN 978-0-374-11309-4
- "Steve Martin's Boring Appearance Prompts Audience Refunds". Rttnews.com. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- "Comedian Conversation Falls Flat at 92nd Street Y
- Martin, Steve (December 4, 2010). "The Art of Interruption". The New York Times.
- Deborah Solomon (December 16, 2007). "my father was born in Romania and fled as a child in 1938". The New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
- Interviews by Deborah Solomon for the New York Times
- Article on Deborah Solomon in Good Magazine, February 14, 2007
- Arthur Danto's review of Solomon's Utopia Parkway, Slate, March 26, 1997
- Interview with Deborah Solomon in the New York Times Book Review, June 13, 2010
- Deborah Solomon talking about art criticism on WNYC radio
- Deborah Solomon page at Farrar, Straus & Giroux
- John Wilmerding's review of Solomon's "American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell," New York Times, October 31, 2013
- In-depth interview with Deborah Solomon in Guernica Magazine, January 15, 2014.
- Deborah Solomon's television appearance on "The Colbert Report," on January 14, 2014