Search the Collections

Christopher Brown
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
A Bay Area figurative artist whose works often involve figures in abstract settings, Christopher Brown is a painter, printmaker and educator. Born in 1951 in the Marine Corp’s Camp Lejuene, North Carolina, where his father was a doctor, Brown’s family moved to Ohio when he was three. He showed an interest in art at an early age. Ten years later his family moved to Illinois when his father was appointed health director at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Brown obtained his B.F.A. degree from that university in 1972 with a major in painting. He pursued graduate work at the University of California, Davis, studying under the school’s star-studded faculty, including Robert Arneson (1930-1992), Manuel Neri (b. 1930), Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) and William Wiley (b. 1937). He was awarded a Regents’ Fellowship by the University for academic years 1073-76. Brown was awarded a traveling scholarship by the University of Illinois, which enabled him to travel to Europe for academic year l974-75, primarily to Spain and Munich. He received his M.F.A. degree from Davis in 1976. He received his first solo show in 1977 at the Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco. After living in rural Woodland, Calif., and teaching at the American River College in Sacramento, Brown moved to San Francisco in 1978, but returned to Munich later that year having received a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, “DAAD”), where he was a guest artist affiliated with the Munich Academy of Art. In 1979 Brown received the first of two Special Project Grants in Art Criticism from the National Endowment for the Arts; the second was in 1981. His work was included in the Oakland Museum’s 1979 exhibition, “New Images, Bay Area.” During 1980 he was a teaching fellow and the University of Virginia’s campus in Richmond. While there he started experimenting with etching. Brown received an appointment to teach studio art at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. He exhibited regularly at Gallery Paule Anglim, with solo shows in 1980, 1983, 1985 1988 and 1990. His work appeared in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 1982 exhibition, “Fresh Paint: Fifteen California Painters.” Brown received several awards during the 1980s, including a Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship from the University of California (1984), a Eureka Fellowship from the Mortimer Fleishacker Foundation, San Francisco (1985), an Award in Visual Arts from the Equitable and Rockefeller Foundations (1986), an Artist Grant in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts (1987) and the Award in Art from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1988). His 1985 exhibition “The Painted Room” opened at the Madison (Wisconsin) Art Center in 1985 and traveled to galleries in Berkeley, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Des Moines and Irvine. His interest in printmaking expanded to woodcuts at the Experimental Workshop in New York City in 1986 and to Lithography at Albuquerque’s Tamarind Institute in 1990. He returned to etching at Crown Point Press in San Francisco in 1991, the first of several printmaking projects at that press. Brown’s first solo exhibition in New York City was at the Edward Thorp Gallery in 1992. He resigned his faculty position at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994, having served as department chair since 1990, to concentrate on creating art. His first major solo exhibition in a museum, “History and Memory: Paintings by Christopher Brown,” was organized by the Museum of Modern Art of Fort Worth in 1995, and traveled to San Jose, Honolulu, Palm Springs, Calif., and West Palm Beach, Florida. That year the Palo Alto Cultural Center presented an exhibition of his works on paper. The following year Brown created four color etchings as the first project for the new Paulson Press in Emeryville, Calif. (now in Berkeley), the beginning of a long relationship. Also that year he received a purchase award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Throughout the balance of that decade and during the 21st century Brown has continued to create new works and exhibit widely. He has been represented by the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco since 2002. He is an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, teaching painting and drawing. Brown lives and works in Berkeley. (TNB 5/2017) Selected bibliography: Brenson, Michael. History and Memory: Paintings by Christopher Brown. Exhibition catalog. Fort Worth: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 1995.