Born in Brooklyn in 1966, Matthew Solomon was a ceramist who celebrated the natural world with his large and extraordinary body of work.
Solomon studied at the School of Visual Arts, the Appalachian Center for Crafts, and Alfred University; but before devoting his life to the arts, he worked as a trial attorney in New York after graduation from Fordham University School of Law. Stress led him to gardening, which, in turn, led him to sculpture. First he fell in love with what he called “good dirt,” then with clay. Filled with an overwhelming urge to make the things he was growing, he was soon spending all his free time sculpting flowers in his basement. In the early 2000s, Solomon and his wife Hilary and their daughter Sidney left the New York area for Sullivan County, where he set up his studio, never again looking back.
His practice flourished, and over the years he sold his work to, and executed commissions for, some of the most sought after architecture and design firms of his time, including Victoria Hagan, Emily Summers, Jamie Drake, MR Architecture and Decor, and Fox-Nahem Design, to name but a few. His many notable collectors included icons of art and design such as Agnes Gund, Cindy Sherman, and Todd Oldham. His work was exhibited at the New York Ceramics Fair, the Salon Art + Design Show and the Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory, and at the Neuberger Museum of Art. It was, moreover, featured in numerous publications, including, among others, Architectural Digest, NYC&G (New York Cottages and Gardens), the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times, T Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. He was honored with a Louis Comfort Tiffany foundation grant in 2017.
Using fine porcelain and glazes he crafted himself, Solomon translated the unruly beauty of nature into works both large and small—sublime sculptures exceptional for their unexpected details. Delphiniums might swirl over the surface of a towering vase, obscuring the form beneath; decaying leaves, sparkling with an iridescent glaze would encrust a pair of lidded vases. His delicate tabletop pieces (his tulips, vases, and boxes) were wonders of craft, imagination, and observation, as extraordinary as his celebrated large-scale installations—climbing pieces covering entire walls or ceilings.
“Nature has always been my greatest muse,” he once said. “It all started in my garden. Now, whenever I need some inspiration I just go for a walk. My yard is filled with Goldenrod and Queen Anne’s Lace. I have wild blueberries and blackberries and there’s always a gnarled branch or leaf or fungus in the woods that catches my eye.”