Reconsidering Roger Brown
“What is it about Pageantry That We Love So Much?” asks John Yau of Hyperallergic. In an article posted on February 3, Yau ponders artist and legendary SAIC alum Roger Brown’s existence “in a weird limbo—neither invisible or visible” since his death in 1997. Citing Raphael Rubinstein’s call to reconsider “the still underrated [Julian] Schnabel” in a recent piece for Art in America, Yau counters that it is Brown who truly deserves a re-examination. “Despite the obvious differences, Brown and Schnabel have a deep interest in pageantry,” he says. “Brown’s interest in spectacle troubles many viewers, perhaps because it touches a nerve rather than puts forward a display of overweening self-regard. Whereas Schnabel’s paintings strike me as epic advertisements for a throbbing oversized ego, Brown maintains a rather cool and even distanced approach to disquieting subject matter.” Referencing paintings Untitled (Theater Interior), 1968, and We Will Sell No Painting before It’s Dry, 1983, Yau adds, “Long before Guy Debord’s theory of spectacle had an impact in the art world, Brown recognized that much of America was made up of passive observers who expressed shock or displeasure, but seldom were motivated beyond that.” Brown’s legacy was explored this fall in Roger Brown: This Boy’s Own Story at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries.