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Roger Brown

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You are here : Home : International : Contemporary American : Roger Brown

Roger Brown

Born 1941, Hamilton, Alabama, USA - Died 1997, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Roger Brown was one of the leading artists of the Chicago Imagist group whose work received International recognition between its inception in the late 1960s and its height in the 1980s. Brown's masterpiece 'Land of Lincoln' illustrated the front cover of the principle publication on the Imagists, 'Who Chicago', the catalogue for the 1981 Sunderland/Camden Arts Centre showings in Great Britain. Brown was initially part of the False Image group in the late sixties, but he and artists from the Hairy Who group such as Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum initiated a visual counterargument to the minimalist tendencies prevailing on the East Coast. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was an important common factor for many of these artists, especially the influence of Ray Yoshida, who encouraged these artists to look past traditional art historical visual source material. So-called 'outsiders' such as the African-American South Side painter, Joseph Yoakum were of special significance to Roger Brown, who visited him regularly along with Yoshida and some of the other artists of the times. Yoakum's fantastical landscape compositions must certainly be regarded as a backdrop for some of the innovative work that the Imagists would make, especially so in the iconography of Brown's landscape painting. Roger Brown is also known for his bold imagery dealing with the sexual politics of the time. The work 'Aha! Heterosexuals Fuck Too', 1991 is perhaps the most notable of these, however the important 2012 exhibition, 'This Boy's Own Story' at the Sullivan Galleries, SAIC, Chicago, made important progress in regarding the sexual-political paintings in terms of their cultural significance. This is only now being fully understood as the USA still grapples with issues such as same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that the challenging nature of some of the 1990s works may have in part played a role in the slowness of the fashion-conscious, politically-disinclined art world in appreciating the significance of the artist in the years immediately following his death in 1997 from complications due to AIDS.