A humanist, it is above all in depicting the human form- and especially the face- that Silverman shows us his true mastery of his medium. Though he is epually adept in painting the male, he appears to prefer the opposite sex and is particularly sensitive to the female visage, his limning of feminine features universally handled with delicacy and insight. We see over and over again- in paintings such as “Claire,” “Woman in a Black Hat,” “Nail Care,” “Park Bench,” “Museum,” “Hanging Out,” “Summer of ’82,” to name a few- more than just a face, but the hints of a deeper humanity, an entire personality “writ large” in not only the facial delineations, but also in the gaze of the eye, the tilt of the head, the cant of the neck and shoulders- physical, idiosyncratic traits that have been built up and that have settled into habitual attitudes and postures over a liftetime of confronting the world.
Burton Silverman is one of the very few artists that I know who is able to straightforwardly portray himself. To sit before a blank canvas and a mirror simultaneously is a trick that not many portraitists- no matter how skilled- have ever successfully mastered. It takes a state of mind that is both objective and subjective at one and, the same time and, at least in my experience, I have found few artists able to successfully pull it off.
Raymond J Steiner, Art Times
The art of Burton Silverman displays the art of a prolific, wide-ranging celebrant of life. His paintings are about life and living with one’s own skinand in our time. It is not about politics or justice or any of the other ideas claimed for typical late-twentieth-century art in the typical contemporary art magazine. Just as music is for hearing, painting is for seeing. For Silverman, the painter’s work is to find those times and places where seeing the thing is the most powerful way to experience it. He undertakes to re-present experience on canvas or paper.
Joseph Keiffer, American Arts Quarterly
Silverman’s portraits were never merely illustrations for a text; they were always independent, parallel works of art, vast texts in themselves. In every instance he presented a subtle examination of character and fresh insights into personality. Where words left off, Silverman began. He revealed what could not be described or explained; again and again, he found the essence... How he brought this about, I cannot imagine, but there it was, beyond argument; and it gave me, and continues to give me, joy.
William Shawn, former Editor of The New Yorker
None of us helped Burt Silverman, whose distinctive drawings vividly illuminated the screen as they now do this book. Pay attention to the mood they create of the delegates in debate, dejection, or defiance, and you realize how a work of the imagination grasps reality more poignantly at times than a photograph.
Bill Moyers, Introduction to Report from Philadelphia, the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Ballantine Books, NY, 1987
Apart from the fact that these works are so beautifully composed and constructed as to make one feel at one with Silverman’s vision, the understanding that he has deliberately chosen ordinary settings to create such extraordinary circumstances excites the mind as much as the eye... He’s captured artisans, laborers vacationers and sportsmenthe old and the young. They comprise a repertoire of real people whose existence often transcend the commonplace, representing for the artist larger issues and deeper emotions. The work can be viewed on two planes: as documents of an epoch and recordings of ideas... Silverman’s art is created with intelligence and his commitment to truth and beauty is vivdly clear.
Steven Heller, Review of exhibition at Sindin Galleries, NYC, 1983, Arts Magazine, Jan. 1984
Burton Silverman is an artist of consumate skill. In his recent drawings, pastels and watercolors he demonstrates the draughtsmanship, painterliness and concern for people that have earned his work several prestigious awards and a place in important exhibitions. They add insights and convey perceptions through conventional images that have about them the qualities we associate with art.
Malcolm Preston, Newsday, Sept. 1971
Burt Silverman’s abilities are clearhe’s a master draftsman, superb painter and he designs each picture for maximum understanding and visual excitement. His humanism and intelligence lie deep in every image. The intensity of his perceptions about everyone, from world leaders to garment workers, gives us a truth that is essential.
Jill Bossert, “1990 Hall of Fame,” Society of Illustrators
Burton Silverman’s special gift is the ability to take the viewer into the environment of his subjects; to share the joy, the pain, the expectation, the resignation, the love and the contempt. For the past eight years works by Burton Silverman have been included in each of the Portsmouth Museums American Drawings Exhibitions...and became part of the Center’s permanent collection of Twentieth Century paintings and drawings.
The Portsmouth Museums
Silverman works from direct experience, with an understanding of the character and motivations of people, and the ability and avowed purpose to create canvases that engage with an audience on many levels.
If his paintings did not achieve these qualities,the work would not touch us as they do. There can be no doubt from this survey of his current work that Silverman has passed the litmus test of enduring value. .... Silverman's art is universal
Dr. Gabriel P. Weisberg, Professor of Art History, University of Minnesota Burton Silverman;the Humanist spirit Hofstra University Musuem 2011