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 Byron (George Byron) Browne  (1907 - 1961)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: cubist figure, still life, genre and birds paintings, design, sculpture

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
"IMAGE IN BLACK"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Yonkers, New York, Byron Browne was a central figure in many of the modernist artistic and political groups that flourished during the 1930s in New York City. He was an early member of the Artists' Union, a founding member in 1936 of the American Abstract Artists, and a participant in the Artists' Congress until 1940, when political infighting prompted Browne and others to form the breakaway Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors.

Browne's artistic training followed traditional lines. From 1925 to 1928, he studied at the National Academy of Design, where in his last year he won the prestigious Third Hallgarten Prize for a still-life composition. Yet before finishing his studies, Browne discovered the newly established Gallery of Living Art. There and through his friends John Graham and Arshile Gorky, he became fascinated with Picasso, Braque, Miro, and other modern masters.

Although Browne destroyed his early academic work shortly after leaving the National Academy, he remained steadfast in his commitment to the value of tradition, and especially to the work of Ingres. [3] Browne believed, with his friend Gorky, that "Every artist has to have tradition. Without tradition art is no good. Having a tradition enables you to tackle new problems with authority, with solid footing."

Increasingly in the 1940s, Browne adopted an energetic, gestural style. Painterly brush strokes and roughly textured surfaces amplify the primordial undercurrents posed by his symbolic and mythical themes. In 1945 Browne showed with Adolph Gottlieb, William Baziotes, David Hare, Hans Hofmann, Carl Holty, Romare Bearden, and Robert Motherwell at the newly opened Samuel Kootz Gallery. When Kootz suspended business for a year in 1948, Browne began showing at Grand Central Galleries. In 1950, he joined the faculty of the Art Students League, and in 1959 he began teaching advanced painting at New York University.

Source: Virginia M. Mecklenburg. "The Patricia and Phillip Frost Collection: American Abstraction, 1930-1945" (Washington, DC: National Museum of American Art and Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), pp. 44-47. Copyright 1989 Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.





Biography from David Findlay Jr. Gallery:
Byron Browne’s artistic training was conventional, and little about his career at the National Academy of Design from 1924-1928 suggested that he would soon depart from the traditional methods in which he was being schooled.  Several experiences are identified as being formative for Browne’s career as an abstract artist.  In 1927 he and his friend Arshile Gorky visited Albert E. Gallatin’s Gallery of Living Art, where they saw works of Picasso, Braque and Miró.  Stimulated by what he saw there, Browne began to study Cahiers d’Art, the French magazine devoted to progressive European art.  As he experimented with Cubism, Browne’s conviction that abstraction represented the future of art grew.  His complete break from traditional art is perhaps best expressed in his decision to destroy his early representational work.

By 1930 the direction of Browne’s work was clearly established.  By the mid 1930s, he found work and support within the Works Progress Administration Mural Division, as Burgoyne Diller, the Division’s head, began to advocate and organize in behalf of abstract artists.  Browne became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, as well as having involvement in a variety of other political and artistic groups at this time.  Like his wife, the artist, Rosalind Bengelsdorf, Browne wrote and spoke frequently in defense of abstraction.

According to Byron Browne, the roots of abstraction could be found in the natural world, and as such, abstraction could not be separated from life itself.  He saw abstraction as an extension of the physical world, rather than generated by spiritualism.  The distinction was an important one to Browne, who had little tolerance for the mysticism that Hilla Rebay and others believed to be at the foundation of abstraction.

In the 1930s, Cubism can be seen as the dominant influence in his work, while by the 1940s his paintings had relaxed into softer, biomorphic forms reminiscent of Arp and Miró.  In the 1950s, in response to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, his work became more gestural and painterly.  However, these styles were never mutually exclusive; Browne felt free to combine any or all of these elements, depending on his expressive intent.

In addition to his career as a painter, Browne was also a teacher.  He taught at the Art Students League beginning in 1948, and in 1949 he became a professor of advanced painting at New York University.  Byron Browne died in New York in 1961.

Excerpt taken from American Abstract Art of the 1930s and 1940s, The J. Donald Nichols Collection, Margaret Gregory. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, New York. 1998

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AK
The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Art Students League, New York, NY
Ball State University Art Gallery, Muncie, IN
Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Providence, RI
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
The Canton Art Institute, Canton, OH
The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
College Art Gallery, SUNY, New Paltz, NY
Columbia Museum of Arts and Sciences, Columbia, SC
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Everson Museum of Art of Syracuse and Onondaga County, New York, NY
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Holbrook Collection, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Hudson River Museum of Westchester, Yonkers, NY
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, CA
James A. And Mari Michener Collection, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University at New Brunswick, NJ
Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, WI
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL
Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Museum of Art, Utica, NY
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, PA
Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Isreal
Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro
Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples Museum of Art, Naples, FL
Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, Roslyn, NY
National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, Purchase, NY
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Orange County Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA
Pace University Art Collection, New York, NY
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix Art Musuem, Phoenix, AZ
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
Sao Paolo Museum of Modern Art, Brazil (gift of Nelson Rockefeller)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, NY
Trisolini Gallery, Ohio University, Athens, OH
University Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
Walker Art Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensborough, NC
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Byron Browne (American, 1907-1961)

BYRON BROWNE was a painter, designer and sculptor born in Yonkers, New York in 1907. He died in 1961 in New York City a celebrated modernist. He studied at the National Academy of Design, NYC (1924-1928) and with Karfunkle, Aiken and Zorach. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists Group of 1938; American Artists Congress; Allied American Artists and the Yonkers Art Association. He won his first prize at the National Academy in 1928 and many other prizes followed. From 1933-1970, he was given over 60 solo exhibitions and his reputation grew by leaps and bounds.

In 1927 Browne began to experiment with abstraction and he later destroyed all of his earlier representational canvases because he thought it was too old hat and tainted. During the mid-thirties he was a Works Project Administration (WPA) painter and he became extremely active in the American Abstract Artists Group. During the 1930s, he was painting in the Cubist style and by the 1940s he was painting in a biomorphic style influenced by Arp and Miro. From 1952-1961 Browne was active in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he combined both painting styles in a gestural manner in murals and he carved stone memorials. He was instructor of painting at the Arts Student’s League (NYC) from 1948-1959 and taught Advanced Painting at New York University from 1959 until his death in 1961.

Note: His birth name is George Byron Browne and many of his early works are signed in that manner.

References: Who Was Who in American Art, vol. I, p. 475; New York City WPA Art, 14 (with illustrations); American Abstract Art, p. 178; Who’s Who in American Art, 1940, 1947, 1959.

Biography from ACME Fine Art:
Byron Browne
1907-1961

Education:
National Academy of Design
Also with Zorach, Aiken, and Karfunkle

Selected Exhibitions:
National Academy of Design, 1928 (prize), 1929
Art Institute of Chicago, 1928, 1935, 1946
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1928, 1930, 1947, 1953, 1957
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1930-31, 1936, 1946-47,1951, 1954
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1946
Museum of Modern Art, 1939
Worlds Fair, New York, 1939
Audubon Artists, 1945
Carnegie Institute, 1946
Kootz Gallery, 1946 (solo)
University of Illinios, 1951 (solo)
Salons of America
Society of Independent Artists

Member:
American Abstract Artists, (charter member 1935)
Audubon Artists
American Artists Congress
Allied American Artists

Selected Collections:
Brooklyn Museum
Whitney Museum of American Art
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Art Students League
Smithsonian Institution
Everson Museum
High Museum
Fogg Art Museum
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
Munson Williams Proctor Institute
Virginia Museum of Fine Art
Walker Art Center
Newark Museum
Butler Art Institute
University of Georgia
Hirshhorn Museum
Dallas Museum of Fine Art
Tel-Aviv Museum
Roswell Museum
University of Minnesota
Cornell University
Brown University
Northeastern University
New School for Social Research
University of Arizona
Chrysler Museum
Williams College

Biography from Boca Raton Museum of Art:
BYRON BROWNE was a painter, designer and sculptor born in Yonkers, New York in 1907.  He died in 1961 in New York City, a celebrated modernist.  He studied at the National Academy of Design*, NYC (1924-1928) and with Karfunkle, Aiken and Zorach.

He was a member of the American Abstract Artists* Group of 1938; American Artists Congress*; Allied American Artists* and the Yonkers Art Association. He won his first prize at the National Academy in 1928 and many other prizes followed. From 1933-1970, he was given over 60 solo exhibitions and his reputation grew by leaps and bounds.

In 1927 Browne began to experiment with abstraction, and he later destroyed all of his earlier representational canvases because he thought it was too old hat and tainted. During the mid-thirties he was a Works Project Administration (WPA*) painter and he became extremely active in the American Abstract Artists Group.

During the 1930s, he was painting in the Cubist* style, and by the 1940s he was painting in a bio-morphic style influenced by Arp and Miro. From 1952-1961 Browne was active in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he combined both painting styles in a gestural manner in murals and he carved stone memorials. He was instructor of painting at the Arts Student’s League* (NYC) from 1948-1959 and taught Advanced Painting at New York University from 1959 until his death in 1961.

By The Boca Raton Museum of Art
Catalina Torres (Intern)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


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