Roger Brown: Virtual Still Lifes
Roger Brown: Virtual Still Lifes accompanies the exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), May 2–September 15, 2019, bringing together a vast grouping of Roger Brown's “Virtual Still Life” paintings (1995–97) made near the end of his career. By positioning these works alongside others that highlight their development, including early paintings demonstrating his interest in the stage and installations conveying the centrality of collecting to his practice, the exhibition lays out Brown’s process through the objects he collected and the spaces he created for and with them. This marks the first New York solo museum show devoted to Brown, arguably one of the most significant artists to emerge from Chicago in the twentieth century.
Known for his atmospheric paintings of architecture, landscapes, and simplified social dramas, Brown (1941–1997) stylized an American “ambiance” influenced by the visual language of postwar advertising and film noir. His practice investigated the tension between illusionistic and “real” space, aestheticizing the national mood as one of artificiality and theatricality. Brown’s work is remarkable in its capacity to provide a sly, compact critique of American politics and society through the stunning use of color, rhythmic pattern, and compressed perspective. His vision of reality emerges as particularly compelling today, given the elevated tension between the virtual and the real brought on by the popular use of digital space as a site for socializing and self-mythologizing.
Edited by Shannon R. Stratton. Texts by Lisa Stone, Lisa Wainwright, Shannon R. Stratton, Lydia Yee, Jenelle Porter, and Giovanni Aloi. Designed by Sonia Yoon.
Published by the Museum of Arts and Design in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2019, double gatefold hardcover, 240 pages.