Nicholas Solovioff (1927-1994)

Nicholas Solovioff is a prolific illustrator, having done covers for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Horizon, Readers Digest and the Smithsonian. He also illustrated articles in Fortune and illustrated some of the Time-Life books. He specialized in illustrating architecture, technology, science, and nature. In addition to illustration of magazines, he has done technical illustration for government contracted technical manuals and architectural proposals for Philip Johnson and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. He was the artist in residence for the Port of New York Authority. Solovioff was educated at Harvard, where he began studying astronomy, physics, and math, but he eventually switched to art history. After obtaining a BA, he got an MFA from Harvard and all but completed a Ph.D as well. He taught art history, drawing, painting, and sculpture at the Fogg Museum (Harvard) while working towards a Ph.D. He also taught at the Parsons School of Design. Solovioff served in WWII in the US Army and later as a combat artist for the US Marine Corps in Vietnam.

Solovioff is a very capable illustrator. The watercolors he did for the Bureau of Reclamation are quite realistic, without detailing the minutiae. Perhaps the most interesting of the three watercolors is Coulee Overlook with its zebra stripe shadows. The action happens on a diagonal across the painting. In the lower lefthand corner workers gather, while in the top right-hand corner the cranes are ready to start hoisting. Despite the diagonal of activity, the painting is well balanced. The three water conduits, symmetrical in the center of the painting, add stability. The two steel beams above the conduits angle up slightly to the lefthand corner, creating a counter diagonal to the main diagonal.

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