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Milton Wolf Brown papers, 1908-1998

Biographical Note

Milton Wolf Brown (1911-1998) was an art historian and educator in New York City.
Known to his friends as "Mainey," Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1911. At a young age he intended to be a painter and studied with Louis Lozowick. However, instead of attending art school, he entered New York University to study education and eventually received his master's and doctorate in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. While there he took courses with Walter Friedlander, Erwin Panofsky, and Mayer Schapiro. He also received fellowships to the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1934 and Brussels in 1937, and studied from 1938-1939 at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. In 1938 he married fellow student Blanche Levine. After serving in World War II, he began teaching in the art department at Brooklyn College in 1946. There he developed a specialization in American art history and his doctoral dissertation, American Painting from the Armory Show to the Depression, was published in 1955. In 1963 he participated in the fiftieth anniversary exhibition of the 1913 Armory Show. The publication of his book Story of the Armory Show coincided with this event.
In 1971 Brown established the graduate program in Art History at the City University of New York, which became preeminent in the areas of modern art and American art history. During the 1980s he remained a resident professor at CUNY, though he retired in 1979, and he held visiting professorships at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. From 1983 to 1987 he had a senior fellowship at Williams College for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project.
Over the course of his career Brown curated exhibitions, including an exhibition on the works of Jacob Lawrence and The Modern Spirit: American Painting and Photography, 1908-1935, and wrote for numerous publications. He also served as an active member of several professional societies. Brown was close friends with art scholars and artists, such as Jack Levine, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Ad Reinhardt, and Paul Strand. In 1991 he returned to painting landscape watercolors, and had the opportunity to exhibit his work before his death in 1998.