Colleen Browning, British/American (1918 - 2003)

Although a major American realist of the latter half of the twentieth century, Colleen Browning was born in Cregg, County Cork, Ireland. From earliest years, she hoped to be a painter. In due course, Browning attended London's Slade School of Art from 1946 to 1948. Her marriage to the English novelist Geoffrey Wagner in 1949 first brought her to the United States. The following year, the couple settled in New York where Browning taught at City university.

Early in her career, Browning's talents were recognized and honored. In the 1950s, she began showing at the Edwin Hewitt Gallery in New York and since then has won numerous annual exhibition awards, from the Rochester Memorial Art Museum to the Carnegie International. Her work was included in the National Academy of Design's yearly exhibitions, and she has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Kennedy Galleries in New York. She was elected a National Academician in 1966, and has served as an officer at the Academy.

Browning's distinctive brand of figurative painting, with subjects ranging from eerie worshipers in a Guatemalan church to graffiti- covered Harlem subway cars to the surrealist still life Fruits and Friends (1978, Harmon-Meek Galleries, Naples, Fl.), displays definite affinities with both the Social Realism of Jack Levine and the "magic realism" of Philip Evergood and George Tooker. Nevertheless, Browning developed and maintains a wry, multi-hued personal stamp to her painting which for almost four decades has set it apart from prevailing fashion. "I have tried to evoke the magical from reality by an accurate visual reconstruction of the facts, so that the viewer can share my aesthetic shock in unexpected revelations.'13 Surely no Browning canvas fills this bill as completely as her early work, Telephones, which won Honorable Mention at the Butler institute's 20th National Midyear Exhibition in 1954.

• Detroit Institute of Arts
• Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
• The Milwaukee Art Center
• The St. Louis Art Museum
• The New York State Art Museum
• The National Museum of Women in the Arts
• Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
• The National Academy of Design

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