Strata #502 by Susan Schwalb
New York City, New York
|Training||Carnegie Mellon University|
Susan Schwalb is a contemporary silverpoint artist. She was born in New York City (1944), graduated from the High School of Music & Art (1961), and has a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (1965). She married the composer Martin Boykan in 1983 and currently lives and works in New York City.
Schwalb was born in born in New York City (1944), graduated from the High School of Music & Art (1961), and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (1965). In 1983 she married composer Martin Boykan and works from her Manhattan studio. Her work blends the mediums of drawing and painting. She is a leader in the use of silverpoint in contemporary art.
Susan Schwalb is one of the foremost figures in the revival of the ancient technique of silverpoint drawing in America. Most of the contemporary artists who draw with a metal stylus continue the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer by using the soft, delicate line for figurative imagery. By contrast, Schwalb’s work is abstract, and her handling of the technique is innovative. In some works, paper is torn and burned to provide loose uncontrolled contrast to the precise linearity of silverpoint. In others, silverpoint is combined with flat expanses of acrylic paint or gold leaf. Subtle shifts of tone and color are evident from the juxtaposition of a different types of metal. In more recent works, Schwalb has abandoned the silverpoint stylus in favor of wide metal bands that achieve a shimmering atmosphere reminiscent of watercolor paintings.
Memories of light have been a recurrent source for her work. Travels to Arizona and New Mexico suggest some of the colors and shapes in the painting series called “Mesa”, and other works are influenced by light on the Hudson River as viewed from her studio on the West Side of Manhattan. Visits to artist colonies such as the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts have also provided a backdrop to influence her work.
Schwalb’s oeuvre ranges from drawings on paper to artist books and paintings on canvas or wood panels. Many of these panels are carefully beveled so that the imagery seems to float off the wall. Her work is represented in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery, Washington D.C., the British Museum, London, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, the Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kupferstichkabinett - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, the Achenbach Foundation of Graphic Arts, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, Rhode Island, and the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas.
 Artist books
Schwalb’s artist’s books, often done in collaboration with the composer Martin Boykan, are in the collections of the Library of Congress, MOMA, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, California, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and the Houghton Library at Harvard University.
- "Susan Schwalb Becomes Bride", New York Times, 1983-11-07, retrieved October 20, 2010
- "Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Susan Schwalb", Brooklyn Museum, retrieved October 20, 2010
- Mandel, Elizabeth (January 1, 2010), "Intricate Enigma: a look at silverpoint, then and now", ArtsEditor, retrieved October 20, 2010
 Further reading
- Beck-Friedman, Tova, November 2005, "Susan Schwalb: Drawn in Metal", The New York Art World
- Broude, Norma and Garrard, Mary (ed), (1994), “The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact,” Harry Abrams
- Cohen, Joyce, August/September 1996, "Galaxies and Other Matter and Intervals", Art New England
- Earley, Sandra, 9 September 1985, "Art: The Siren Song of Silverpoint", The Wall Street Journal
- Eshoo, Amy, 560 Broadway- A New York Drawing Collection at Work, 1991–2006, Yale University Press, 2007
- Faxon, Alicia, Susan Schwalb: Moments of Resonance, Art New England, June/July ’99
- Faxon, Alicia, Drawing: Line or Image, New Art Examiner, 1/90
- Faxon, Alicia and Moore, Sylvia, Pilgrims and Pioneers: New England Women in the Arts, Midmarch Arts Books, 1987
- Glueck, Grace, Imagery from the Jewish Consciousness, The New York Times, 6/6/82
- Harrison, Helen A., Contemporary Metalpoint Drawings, The New York Times, 4/3/94
- Heller, Jules and Nancy G., American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century, Garland Publishing Co., 1995
- Kohen, Helen L., Silverpoint Makes for Golden Exhibit, The Miami Herald, 4/21/85
- Langdon, Ann, The Creation Series, Art New England, December 1992 / January 1993
- Langer, Cassandra, The Creation Series: 15 Years of Silverpoint, Women Artists News, Fall 1990
- Mandel, Elizabeth, Intricate Enigma: a look at silverpoint, then and now, ArtsEditor.com, 1/25/2010
- Marter, Joan, Susan Schwalb, Womanart, Winter ’77-’78
- Mathews-Berenson, Margaret, The Light Touch, American Artist Drawing, Spring, 2004
- McQuaid, Cate, Public Eyes; Light Grids; Gallery on the MBTA, The Boston Globe, 3/4/99
- McQuaid, Cate, Natural Deceptions; Rejoicing Stars, Boston Globe, 5/2/96
- Miller, Lynn and Swenson, Sally, Lives and Works, Talks with Women Artists, Scarecrow Press, 1981
- Orenstein, Gloria, Feman Vision and Visibility: Contemporary Jewish Women Artists Visualize the Invisible, Femspec, Vol.4 Issue 2, Lexington Press, 2004
- Schwendenwien, Jude, From Religious Symbols to Detailed Abstractions, The Hartford Courant, 10/25/92
- Soltes, Ori Z., Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century, Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2003
- Soltes, Ori Z., Heilige Zeichen, Parthas Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2007
- Temin, Christine, Silverpoint’s Delicate Power, The Boston Globe, 11/14/85
- Walentini, Joseph Susan Schwalb, Abstract Art Online Vol. VI, No. 3 (www.abartonline.com), 12/4/03
- Waterman, Jill, Delicate Understandings, ArtsMedia, 6/15- 7/15/00
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender, Fall, Number 16, 2008
- Susan Schwalb's website
- Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art- Susan Schwalb
- Askart.com - Susan Schwalb
- Kentler International Drawing Space - Re-inventing Silverpoint - Susan Schwalb