David Slivka was born in Chicago on October 27, 1914 of Russian immigrant parents. Somewhat of a nomad, he moved all about the United States until the age of sixteen when he settled in San Francisco and later in New York City. From the age of ten he demonstrated a unique talent in both the sculptural and pictorial arts, a gift many established artists of the time, such as Ralph Stackpole and Dudley Crafts Watson, quickly and enthusiastically recognized. At nineteen, now residing in San Francisco, he completed his first sculptural pieces for the First Public Works Project, the WPA and The San Francisco World’s Fair. By the 1930s he had developed a critical and vibrant understanding and fascination with natural forms and phenomena. Later, even in his most abstract pieces, one can still sense the essence and contours of nature in his shapes. Through the years Slivka realized his art through countless media; from ink, crayon, pencil and water color, to wax, rope, clay, granite, bronze, and wood. Size seemed of no consequence, only spatial recognition remained critical, particularly in Slivka’s sculpture. Slivka’s ink drawing series of the 1960s represented a melding of the organic and the abstract while his more current sculptures to this day carry on the variability of this immersion in more concrete media.
David Slivka died on March 28, 2010 at the age of 95. He continued to experiment through his final days. He was one of the last remaining members of The First Generation of American Abstract Expressionist Artists and like them, he sought to infuse spontaneity into his art, accompanied by the freedom to accept or reject the accident which emerged as the result.