Santlofer, Jonathan 1946–

views updated

Santlofer, Jonathan 1946–

PERSONAL: Born April 26, 1946, in New York, NY; son of Louis and Edith (Brill) Santlofer; married Joy Katzman; children: Doria. Education: Boston University, B.F.A., 1967; Pratt Institute, M.F.A., 1969.

ADDRESSES: Office—323 West 39th Street, Studio 10018, New York, NY. Agent—c/o Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of The Americas, New York, NY 10019; c/o Pavel Zoubok Gallery, 533 West 23rd St., New York, NY 10011. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Artist and writer. Jersey City State College, Jersey City, NJ, instructor of studio and art history, 1974–80; New School for Social Research, New York, NY, teacher of art history, 1976; Lacoste School of the Arts, instructor of drawing and painting, 1992; Vermont Studio Center, instructor and resident artist, 1991; Columbia University, New York, instructor of drawing and painting, 1988–90; writer and painter, 1990–. Member, Yaddo board of directors. Exhibitions: Work exhibited in solo and group shows worldwide and contained in permanent collections, including Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA, Institute of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, MI, and Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York, NY, and in private and corporate collections.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1981 and 1989; visiting artist at Vermont Studio Center and at American Academy, Rome, Italy.



The Death Artist, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.

Color Blind, Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.

The Killing Art, Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Jonathan Santlofer's artistic works have been exhibited in one-person shows and dozens of group shows. Many permanent collections contain his abstract art and multimedia works in which he incorporates photographic images and objects, including carved sculpture, to create a hybrid of the abstract and the real. Santlofer's work has been said to contain elements similar to the styles of Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh, as well as to cubism, futurism, and expressionism.

Santlofer retreated to Rome after five years' worth of his work was destroyed in a 1989 Chicago gallery fire. In addition to studying Renaissance and Baroque art and working in his own evolving style, Santlofer began to write fiction. This foray into fiction writing proved to be very therapeutic for Santlofer, who was professionally stalled and emotionally troubled during this time of his life. "I often say that writing saved my life, and I think that's true," he remarked in an autobiography on the Jonathan Santlofer Home Page. "What started as a kind of therapy became a passion," he related, fueled by his interest in mysteries. "Painting and writing are totally different, but equally compelling," he stated.

Santlofer's debut novel, The Death Artist, is about a series of killings in which the murders are staged to resemble classic paintings. A female victim is found with her face slashed to resemble a Pablo Picasso portrait. In addition, the killer sends collages to his future victims that contain clues about the planned crimes. Kate McKinnon Rothstein, a retired police officer turned art historian, socialite, and public television host, is tapped to help solve the murders plaguing New York's art scene.

Reviewing The Death Artist, a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "as critics, dealers, and collectors gather in Venice for an exhibit depicting corpses and dismembered animals, Santlofer makes it clear that contemporary art and real life have merged." A Publishers Weekly critic observed that "the exploration of the psychology of the death artist, along with gossipy insights into the politics of art, make this book a bloody funfest for the museum and gallery crowd."

In The Killing Art, the third appearance of Kate McKinnon Rothstein, Santlofer "brings the New York art world to sharply detailed life," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A murderous art vandal is slashing priceless paintings and killing their owners. Six people have been killed, and masterpieces by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline have been irreparably damaged. When the slasher destroys a painting by Willem de Kooning that had been loaned to a museum by Kate's late husband, she grudgingly returns to police work. Together with her colleague, Detective Monty Murphy, Kate sets out to find the connection between the slashed paintings and the slashed owners. Moreover, she has to find out if the destruction of her late husband's painting means that she herself is now in danger.

With this novel, Santlofer also has the opportunity to combine his dual passion for writing and art. The book includes paintings by Santlofer, representing black-and-white paintings left at the scenes of the crimes by the slasher. These paintings give clues to the killer's next attack, enhancing the readers' experience as they inspect and ponder the same evidence as the novel's protagonists. Santlofer "has created a fast-moving procedural with enough creepy detail to please even the most ardent thriller fans," commented Rebecca House Stankowski in the Library Journal.

In his home page autobiography, Santlofer commented that "trying to keep an entire novel in your head [while writing it] is maddening. But having a story carry you, characters acting out of character, is a thrill."



Interview, November, 1998, Diane Keaton, "The Art of Getting Inside" (interview), p. 74.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of The Death Artist, p. 913; September 1, 2005, review of The Killing Art, p. 940.

Library Journal, October 1, 2005, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of The Killing Art, p. 68.

New York Times, September 8, 2002, Marcelle Clements, review of The Death Artist, p. 13; October 10, 2005, Carol Kino, "A Brush with Death: A Painter Writes of Murder among the Abstract Expressionists."

People, September 30, 2002, Arion Berger, review of The Death Artist, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, July 15, 2002, review of The Death Artist, p. 53; August 8, 2005, review of The Killing Art, p. 210.

USA Today, September 26, 2002, Jackie Pray, review of The Death Artist.


BookBrowser, (July 22, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of The Death Artist.

BookPage, (October 22, 2002), C.L. Ross, review of The Death Artist.

Jonathan Santlofer Home Page, (January 1, 2006).

About this article

Santlofer, Jonathan 1946–

Updated About content Print Article