Byron Browne, American (1907 - 1961)

Byron Browne

Goerge Byron Browne attended The National Academy of Design, New York City from 1924 to 1928. Browne was influenced by Cubism, Miro's fluid feel and by Abstract Expressionism. He took part in the American Avant-Garde movement along with famous painters such as Bolotowsky, Greene, Gorky, and de Kooning.

George Byron Browne was born in 1907 in Yonkers, New York. He later dropped the name “George,” although his name occasionally appears as George-Byron Browne or George B. Browne. He attended the National Academy of Design in New York City from 1924 to 1928. In 1927, he began experimenting with abstract art and eventually destroyed all of his previous representational works. Most noted was the prize winning still-life canvas that he destroyed after the piece won the Hallgarten Prize as a protest to antiquated academia, which disallowed for the “modern movement.”

Throughout his life, Browne was a champion for abstract art. In the 1930’s, Browne worked for the WPA’s mural division, completing some of the first abstract murals in the country for Studio D at radio station WNYC, the U.S. Passport office in Rockefeller Center, the Chronic Disease Hospital, the Williamsburg Housing Project, and the 1939 World’s Fair. In the 1940’s, he picketed the Museum of Modern art in New York protesting their lack of acknowledgment of American Abstract artists. Browne married Rosalind Benglesdorf in 1940, a painter and writer, who also spoke out in defense of abstract art and was a member of the American Abstract Artists along with her husband.

Byron Browne was a leader of the American Avante Garde art movement in the 1930’s and 40’s along with Bolotowsky, Greene, Gorky, and de Kooning. These artists helped pave the way for America, New York in particular, to be seen as a center for art innovation after decades of France being the art center of the world.

He was given over 60 solo exhibitions from 1933 to 1970. Byron Browne was an instructor of painting at the Arts Student League from 1948 to 1959 and taught Advanced Painting at New York University from 1959 until his untimely death in 1961. The Arts Student League later designated a scholarship in his name.

Chronology
1907 Born Yonkers, New York
1924-28 Studied at the National Academy of Design, New York City
1928 Won Third Hallgarten Prize at Academy exhibition
1933 First one-man show at the Eighth Street Gallery
1933-37 One man shows at the New School for Social Research, New York City
1934 Joined the first artist’s union. Exhibited as part of the PWAP artists at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. Also at the Whitney Annual and every annual thereafter until 1956
1935 Studied with Hans Hoffman. Worked for WPA mural division and painted one of the first abstract murals in the country
1936 First meetings of the American Abstract Artists with Ibram Lassaw, Gorky, de Kooning, Greene and others. Museum of Modern Art exhibition
1937-62 American Abstract Artists annual exhibitions
1939 Mural for the World’s Fair as well as a painting in the American Exhibition. Worked under Fernand Leger with de Kooning on large mural. Co-founded the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Inc.
1945-48 Exhibited with the Sam Kootz Gallery
1948 Began teaching at the Art Students League in New York City
1951 Exhibition of works at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
1954 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art makes important acquisition
1961 Dies in New York City on Christmas day

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