Born in 1909, Joseph Solman emigrated from Russia at the age of three. He studied drawing under Ivan Olinsky at the National Academy of Design during the late 1920s. Solman was one of the founders of “The Ten”, a progressive group of artists whose members included Mark Rothko, Ilya Bolotowsky, Adolph Gottlieb and Louis Harris. Solman was active in the easel division of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project from 1936 to 1941. He was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington D.C. in 1949 and in 1961 he received an award in painting from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Solman’s work is often described as innovative, merging realism with abstract expressionism. His cityscapes combine cubist- surrealist overtones with realism in their small, direct gouaches of signs, store windows and sidewalk cellars.