Stanley Brouwn

Stanley Brouwn (1935–2017)

The Dutch paper de Volkskrant reports that the Conceptual artist Stanley Brouwn has died. His death was confirmed by Konrad Fischer Galerie, which represented him in Düsseldorf and Berlin. Though he was recently featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s 2009 exhibition “In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art, 1960–1976,” Brouwn did not allow his work to be reproduced and is generally not well known. For most of his career, he also declined to give interviews or be photographed. He was born in 1935 in Suriname and moved to Amsterdam in 1957. As an example of the nature of his practice, he once decreed that all of the shoe stores in the capital of the Netherlands were his art, for a work in 1960.

A friend introduced him to the ZERO movement, founded by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, and Brouwn’s first works, which he later destroyed, were transparent polythene bags that were filled with different sorts of odds and ends and hung from the ceiling. For another early piece, he laid paper sheets on the street for an unsuspecting cyclist or pedestrian to create the work as they went over them. For his 1960s series “This Way Brouwn,” the artist would approach passersby and ask them to draw directions to a particular place on a piece of paper. He would then print on each drawing with a stamp that said “This way Brouwn.” Blank pages on which someone hadn’t drawn anything, because they didn’t know how to give the directions, were also considered works by the artist.

Brouwn taught at the Kunstakademie Hamburg for years and had a major retrospective in 2005 at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. He was also included in Documenta 5, 6, 7, and 11. For more on Brouwn, see Lisa Pasquariello’s review of his solo show in New York from the March 2006 issue of Artforum.