Roger Brown Study Collection

Roger Brown. Lost America. 1989. Oil on canvas, painted wood frame. Image and original data from the Roger Brown Study Collection, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Roger Brown Study Collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has contributed nearly 800 images* of Brown’s work to the Artstor Digital Library. The selection in Artstor encompasses the artist’s career, from 1970 through 1997, and includes paintings, mosaics, and mixed media works.

Roger Brown (1941-1997) was born and raised in Alabama, where he developed an early interest in art based largely on his personal experiences of the South — folk art and found objects, and an immersion in social culture which he experienced through his preoccupation with genealogy. His influences also included comics, theater design, Art Deco, and a machine-age aesthetic. These interests permeated his work throughout his education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) (B.A. and M.A.) and his career as a professional artist .

Brown was one of the Chicago Imagists, a loosely formed group of artists that emerged from SAIC and adhered to a Surrealist and pop culture aesthetic. He developed a bold, bright, clear-edged style suffused with political and social commentary, graced with humor and anchored in an indelible sense of pattern — land- and cityscapes pulsating with man-made and natural forces. Brown’s evolution as an artist is bound to his lifelong passion for collecting: African and Mexican, folk and outsider art. He developed a genre that he called “Virtual Still Life,” where acquired objects were staged with his paintings.

Brown’s work is featured in many public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Scottish National Gallery of Art and the Museum Moderner Kunst Vienna. His bequests founded the Roger Brown Study Collection of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and the James Roger Brown Memorial Rock House Museum, Beulah, Alabama. Retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 1980, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 1987.

The Roger Brown Study Collection (SAIC) is a house museum, archive, and one the school’s special collections. Set in Brown’s former home and studio, the Collection is filled with works by Chicago Imagists and non-mainstream artists, folk and tribal art, material and popular culture, costumes, and even Brown’s Ford Mustang, still parked in the garage. The 1888 storefront building is a laboratory where students engage in the care and study of varied collections and guests from the public are welcome.