Frederick J. Brown

Frederick J. Brown (February 6, 1945 – May 5, 2012) was a Chicago-raised artist. His paintings draw on many sources, including his African-American, Seminole and Choctaw ancestry, his religious upbringing, and the folklore of the South. He referenced religious, historical and urban themes in his work, but was especially noted for his numerous portraits of jazz and blues artists. In 1988, Brown had the largest retrospective by a Western artist in the People's Republic of China, and he is the only Western artist to have had an exhibition at China's national museum in Tienanmen Square.Wikipedia





 "I think my heritage has a great significance to the images I produce, but you can limit people with a name or a title to only serve one group. When you see my work, you can tell it is done by someone who is Black. But, I want to provide as many beautiful things to the world as I possibly can." — Frederick Brown, quoted in Eve M. Ferguson, "Art Sings the Blues," The Washington Afro-American, 26 Oct. 1991.(americanart.si.edu)





 Brown's paintings of the early 1970s were large, bold abstractions based on the abstract expressionist tradition of the art department at Southern Illinois University. In 1975 Brown met the noted American painter, Willem de Kooning. De Kooning encouraged Brown and Brown still affectionately refers to de Kooning as his "artistic godfather." Brown's large gestural paintings attracted widespread attention and by the mid-1980s were exhibited at the prestigious Marlborough Gallery in New York.
By the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Brown gradually included figural elements, a change that coincided with his creation of some landscape paintings reminiscent of folk art. An airplane motif also appeared in Brown's works—a motif that the artist says represents a marking of time.




In the mid-1980s Brown began a series of paintings that immortalized the friends, mentors, and colleagues who had exerted the greatest influence on his life. One of the first paintings in this series was a monumental Last Supper, completed in 1984, which portrays twelve men who had sustained Brown both personally and professionally. He painted several other religious subjects, including John the Baptist, David and Goliath, and The Ascension. In his portraits of this period, Brown attached photographs of his subjects' faces to the canvas to produce a collage effect. In addition to portraits of single figures, Brown painted large-scale canvases filled with numerous characters both real and fictional, often disparate in their references.(americanart.si.edu)



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