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Roger Brown

Roger Brown , in full James Roger Brown (born December 10, 1941, Hamilton, Alabama, U.S.—died November 22, 1997, Atlanta, Georgia), American artist and collector who was associated with the Chicago Imagists and was known for his bright, flat, and seemingly simple compositions that show an ominous, sometimes satirical, perspective on contemporary life and American culture and politics.

Brown was raised in Opelika, Alabama, in a religious family that belonged to the Church of Christ. They attended services multiple times a week, participated in regular Bible-study classes, and went to Christian summer camps. Brown’s religious upbringing and his early interest in folk art, Art Deco and machine-age design, and comic strips all later surfaced in his art. He showed a proclivity for drawing early on. He left Alabama for Nashville to attend Lipscomb University (associated with the Church of Christ), where he intended to study to become a preacher, but he eventually rejected that career path to become an artist. Brown left the South for Chicago in 1962 and began studying art, taking a few classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). He then studied at Chicago’s American Academy of Art to become a commercial artist, another path he ultimately rejected. In 1965 he became a full-time student at SAIC, earning a B.F.A. in 1968 and an M.F.A. in 1970.

Brown’s years at SAIC had a profound impact on the direction of his art career. While in school he became interested in art historical traditions that would influence his own art making, including Pop art, Surrealism, and pre-Renaissance Italian art. He also became interested in the work of René Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Rousseau, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe, which he could see firsthand in the galleries of the Art Institute. Brown studied with painter and collagist Ray Yoshida and art historian Whitney Halstead, both of whom encouraged him to look to non-Western and nontraditional artists and art forms for inspiration. Yoshida took Brown and

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