Hey Everyone, it’s wintertime again and that means I am going to restart my ‘Artist’s I Love’ Series. I will do an artist each weekend or so for a while. Let me know if you have a favorite artist, it might jog my memory and I’ll want to include them too!
If you want to see last year’s series, check it out under ‘Artist’s I Love‘.
First up for this year is Roger Brown. I first saw his work while I was a student in Graduate School at San Jose State University. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but I saw a show of his work and it blew me away. He combines humor, social commentary, great painting (and other media) techniques, fantastic color and spot on compositions. He is inventive, creative, always moving forward in exploring the possibilities of art.
I got this catalog from a Roger Brown exhibition that I did NOT attend. I was at a museum that had a few pieces of his and saw this catalog in the museum bookstore and had to have it. It’s been opened a LOT since I got it 30+ years ago, as you can tell by what shape it is in. He’s been one of my favorite artists ever since.
This image might be his most famous piece and it’s indicative of his imagery, high contrast and stylized into flattened patterns with repetitive elements. The subject matter is both contemporary and historical, which is also typical of many of his images. But there is a decided anti-religious feel to the piece, as if it is a tacky city-sponsored event.
He frequently uses suburban scenes, most often with the banality of that world appearing to be the message. At the same time he uses it so much that I have always go the feeling that he knows and actually has affection for that world, even while leveling a sort of frustrated critique on it.
As is obvious, he has no love lost for organized religion in this painting. The surprise that the churchgoers are the ones in hell probably has a lot to do with his being from the south and having been raised with that baptist fundamentalism all around him. His tacky, paperdoll cut out view of Jim and Tammy Bakker, preachers who fell from grace in the 90s, also give that message.
He has also played around (pun intended) with making light of America’s sexual obsessions, which isn’t unrelated to our religious ones.
His social commentary wasn’t restricted to just two of the taboo dinner subjects, religion and sex, he dealt with the third as well, politics. Here he connects all our wars up until that time into a gigantic national family tree. He obviously felt that war had come out of and had overwhelmed the goodness of our founding.
He did a number of fine art prints and in this case made sure the viewer knew it was a print by saying so right on it. I like that cheekiness.
Brown delved into 3D work in his later career while not actually straying very far from his thematic and visual focus. This is obviously done much closer to the construction of the World Trade Center than it’s destruction, but it has a very moving feel to it, with the emphasis on the silhouettes in each window busy doing their work.
Here are just a few more I think are of interest.
If you like his work you can read more about him at:
- The Roger Brown Study Collection
- Roger Brown – Wikipedia Article
- School of The Art Institute of Chicago – Roger Brown Biography
- Week #5 – Francisco Goya
- Week #4 – Robert Irwin
- Week #3 – Veruschka
- Week #2 – Albrecht Durer
- Week #1 – Roger Brown
- Week #10 – Coco Larrain
- Week #9 – Nina Levy
- Week #8 – Andy Goldsworthy
- Week #7 – Wayne Thiebaud
- Week #6 – Richard Diebenkorn
- Week #5 – Roy Lichtenstein
- Week #4 – Thomas Hart Benton
- Week #3 – Edward Hopper
- Week #2 – Henri Matisse
- Week #1 – Rembrandt