Michael Brown Joins MARC STRAUS
There is a saying in Yiddish – Bashert – it was meant to be…
My wife Livia brought me to Michael’s studio in Saugerties, NY when Michael Brown was just completing his undergraduate studies at SUNY New Paltz. She had nominated him for an exhibition of American graduate students, “FIRST LOOK II,” at the Hudson Valley MOCA. Remarkably, he was the only undergrad.
He was a precocious talent who adjoined American Pop and Minimalism to create art with such originality and innovation. Michael’s signature works were his “cracked mirror” wall sculptures, entitled In the Meantime, where crack patterns are meticulously hand-cut and welded in stainless steel. The New York Times wrote in 2008, “It freezes an act of anarchic rage into a lovely, spidery web.”
Within a year his work was included in shows at David Zwirner, Zwirner and Wirth, and with representation at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris and New York. A small work of Brown’s on the floor of David Zwirner gallery stood prominently beside the “big names” – Hatoum, Bourgeois, Whiteread, and Gober— in the 2011 exhibition “The House Without the Door.” Brown’s contribution was a small house painter’s brush with a black handle crafted from melted Neil Young records.
As a collector I first came to American Pop with Oldenburg’s playfully made food-like objects, sold by the artist in a small Lower East Side storefront in late 1961. In that lineage came Robert Gober’s “sinks” in 1984 and 1985. Twenty years on, I encounter the young Michael Brown. Like Gober, Brown’s works mine the everyday and memory. Gober’s tenderly handmade Sink With Drainboard comes from his memory as a child of his grandmother’s sink. Brown’s father makes a living as a welder — Brown reverently transmutes this into formal welded works of art. Michael pulls objects from the everyday–paintbrushes, brooms, lawn chairs and more — the things we might neglect and renews them. He brings to light both what they were and what they have become.
Life intervenes. Two galleries closed and Brown with urgent pressures withdrew from the studio for a few years. In May 2018 he was included in the first Westchester Art Triennial, and reopened his studio.
In his newest work Michael Brown has made paintings that hew to his Minimal Pop roots, but are calmer, elegiac; Agnes Martin comes to mind as perhaps a strong influence. These new “horizon paintings” have two fields of paint in a pastel color over which are painted horizontal white lines. Dividing the two panels is a handmade brass intervention. Perhaps it is an image of sky and ground, but with a sculptural element that firmly asserts its presence. It is both painting and sculpture.
I am proud to announce that Michael Brown is now represented by our gallery. When we first met, I was practicing medicine in the Hudson Valley and an inveterate collector. Now as a gallerist we have this wonderful unexpected renewal. It is Bashert.
Michael Brown (B. 1982, New York) lives and works in the Hudson Valley. In addition to the aforementioned shows he was included in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions – The Dorsky Center, Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Leo Koenig Gallery, all in New York, Nicodim in L.A., Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio, and many more. He was featured in Art Basel. His works are in some of the most prestigious collections worldwide.