New York

Roger Brown, Virtual Still Life #12 Modernistic Planter with Half a Desert Painting, 1995, oil on canvas, mixed media, 38 1⁄2 × 26 × 12".

Roger Brown, Virtual Still Life #12 Modernistic Planter with Half a Desert Painting, 1995, oil on canvas, mixed media, 38 1⁄2 × 26 × 12".

Roger Brown

MAD - Museum of Arts and Design

“The mainstream art world hierarchy—a system of dealers, writers, artists, critics, and pundits—presumes to define what art is for the rest of us,” Roger Brown (1941–1997) wrote in 1990. “. . . Whatever category one chooses—folk, naïve, outsider, or so-called regionalist—it is very evident that real artists exist and continue to be nurtured outside the mainstream hierarchy. In fact I would venture to say that the only real artists are nurtured there . . . on the outside.” Known as one of the leading Chicago Imagists, Brown could hardly be called an “outsider artist.” He was, however, a voracious collector and cannibal of America’s material culture, from the “trash treasures”—as his teacher Ray Yoshida called them—he scavenged from flea markets to the undulating landscapes of self-taught artist Joseph Yoakum. Elvis paintings and Mexican retablos, Nemadji ceramics and commercial signage,

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