Simon, Sidney

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SIMON, SIDNEY (1917–1997), U.S. painter, sculptor, educator. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Simon studied at the Art Students League, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Carnegie Institute. During the Depression, Simon executed murals for the Federal Arts Project. While a second lieutenant in World War ii, he served as an official war artist, observing and depicting action in the Southwest Pacific theater, including New Guinea and the Phillippines. He was one of three artists appointed to the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. His composition uss Missouri depicts an assembly of troops on the surface of an aircraft carrier, in the midst of combat. Simon underscores the moment's tension and energy by accelerating the viewer's gaze through the composition along two strong diagonal axes, one formed by the protruding gun turrets. After the war, Simon developed a successful career as a painter and sculptor. In 1960 he turned completely to sculpture; his work from this period demonstrates a range of styles, from classical realism to pop assemblage. The artist's 1961 assemblage Kiosk shows Simon appropriating motifs from his contemporaries Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, specifically in the introduction of letters in addition to reference to the human figure; in this wood construction, Simon situates a figure made of maplewood typeset (which never coheres into any words) behind a structure recalling a newspaper stand. The figure is framed by rectangular objects hanging diagonally (also fashioned of type), as magazines might be displayed. Simon executed many commissions including the entrance sculpture to the 747 Building (1972), New York, the West Point Jewish Chapel (1985), and the Graham Building, Philadelphia (1986). He obtained numerous prizes throughout his career, including the Greer Prize (1983), the National Academy of Design Award, the Adna Silver Medal, and the National Arts Club Award (1982). With artists Henry Varnum Poor, Charles Cutler, and Willard Cummings, he founded the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum, among other venues. The Corcoran Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, and the United States Air Force all own examples of his work.


P.H. Falls, Who Was Who in American Art (1985); W.C. Seitz, The Art of Assemblage (1961).

[Nancy Buchwald (2nd ed.)]