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An example of work by Carlyle Brown
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Carlyle Brown was born in Los Angeles, California on July 9th, 1919,
the son of Eugene Montgomery Brown and his wife Goldie. Mr. and
Mrs. Brown were not natives of California, having been born in
Tennessee and Illinois, respectively. Mr. Brown's occupation was listed
in the 1930 census as "broker" of "merchandise." Their first child, a
daughter named Fanchon, was born in 1917 and Carlyle completed their
After graduating from Glendale High School, Brown
attended the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco from
1939 to 1940.
From 1942 to 1945 Brown served in the U.S. Navy.
During his Navy service Brown wrote a fan letter to the Russian
painter, Pavel Tchelitchew, who had immigrated to New York City just
before the outbreak of World War II. Brown's letter initiated a
very intense relationship, with numerous letters exchanged during the
four years of service. Tchelitchew urged Brown to draw as much as
possible and to experiment with different methods of artistic creation.
Their correspondence confirmed the mentoring influence that Brown
already felt from Tchelitchew's art.
Just before being
released from the Navy, Brown was sent to Indiana University in
Bloomington to recruit personnel. While attending a campus
theatre production he met his future wife, drama student Margery
Hulett, newly crowned Arbutus Queen.
At the beginning of 1946,
encouraged by Tchelitchew, Brown moved to New York City, residing first
at the Hotel Seville and later on in a studio near Gramercy Park. He
immediately immersed himself in the New York scene, meeting numerous
artists and personalities in the circle around Tchelitchew: poets
Charles Henri Ford and W.H. Auden; painters Eugene Berman, Corrado
Cagli and Morris Graves; and from the music and dance scene Leonard
Bernstein, Lincoln Kirstein and Gian Carlo Menotti. Kirk Askew,
director of Durlacher Brothers Gallery (Tchelitchew's representative)
gave Brown his first one-man show in October of 1947.
Berman and Tchelitchew, Brown did not disdain the world of fashion as
some artists did. He received commissions from Harper's Bazaar in
1947 and socialized with fashion people. His paintings were
avidly collected by photographers Cecil Beaton and Clifford Coffin,
fashion designers Antonio Canovas del Castillo and Charles James,
jewelry designer Fulco di Verdura and designer Van Day Truex.
this time he was reunited with Margery Hulett, who was in New York
modeling for Vogue (she is memorably seen in the famous 1948 photograph
by Beaton of eight models wearing Charles James dresses, adjusting her
hair at the mirror in the center of the photograph). They became
engaged and got married on June 12th of the same year. Attending
their wedding was the famous English art collector Edward James, the
foremost patron of Salvador Dali.
An invitation to join the
eccentric collector at his estate in England was accepted, and in
February of 1948, Carlyle and Margery sailed to England, planning to
stay no longer than six months before returning to New York. West
Dean Park, in Chichester, Sussex, was their residence for exactly six
months. From West Dean the Browns took two trips to Paris, where
they met painters Leonor Fini and Leonid Berman (brother of
Eugene). In September of 1948 they moved to Costafabbri, a small
town just outside the walls of Siena, Italy, suggested by Edward James
as a city untouched by the destruction of World War II.
March of 1949 they traveled south to the island of Ischia to find a
house for the following summer and by the end of the year they had
moved to Rome and settled into the world renowned artistic community in
the Via Margutta. Here they were part of a circle of friends and
artists which included Afro and Mirko Basaldella, Renzo Vespignani,
Novella Parigini, Sibilla Aleramo and Alberto Moravia.
Brown had, until this point, painted mostly portraits and figures, the
summers spent on Ischia brought a different light to his subjects: this
is the time when he started focusing on still-life subjects
incorporating objects from the ambiance around him (bottles of wine,
lemons, eggs, loaves of bread, flowers) set against Italian landscapes.
Forio d'Ischia he was part of a large community of painters including
Leonardo Cremonini, Fabrizio Clerici, Eduard Bargheer, Aldo Pagliacci,
Enrico d'Assia and Margherita Russo. Other personalities who were part
of the scene on Ischia were W.H. Auden and Chester Kallmann, along with
many local writers and painters.
While in Rome and on the
island of Ischia, a long list of photographers were adding portraits of
Carlyle Brown to their portfolio: Henri Cartier-Bresson, for Harper's
Bazaar in 1953, Herbert List and Max Scheler, John Deakin, Brad Fuller,
Patrick O'Higgins and Robert Emmett Bright.
Margery's son, Christopher, was born in 1954. He and Margery
cared deeply for each other; however he strayed from their relationship
in liaisons with men. One man, a Roman laborer, he seemed to hold
in particular affection and was the subject of a number of Brown's
paintings. Brown and Margery divorced in the late 50s; however
they remained friends, and both continued to live in Italy.
living in Italy, Brown took part in many solo and group exhibitions in
the United States. Among the group-shows were exhibitions at the
Whitney Museum of American Art in 1948 and 1951, the Art Institute in
Chicago in 1951 and 1952, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Toledo
Museum of Art in 1951 and 1952, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in
1952, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington in 1957, 1959 and 1961.
celebrated gallery owners Gaspero del Corso and Irene Brin presented
Brown's first solo exhibit in Italy, at their famous Galleria
dell'Obelisco in Rome in 1954. Brown's last show took place at Charles
Moses' Galleria 88, in Via Margutta in June of 1963. Two posthumous
shows were held at the Banfer Gallery in New York in 1964 and 1965.
died at the age of 44 on December 21, 1963 in Rome, Italy. His
death was caused by an overdose of pills and alcohol, although whether
he intended to take his own life is not clear. Brown is buried in
the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, alongside his son Christopher who was
killed in an automobile accident in 1984 and his former wife Margery,
who died of leukemia in the year 2000.
Cardas, son by a subsequent marriage of the widow of Carlyle
Brown. Cardas is cataloguing the Carlyle Brown collection.
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