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Robert Delford Brown papers, 1964-2009

Robert Delford Brown papers, 1964-2009

Brown, Robert Delford, 1930-2009

Performance artist

Collection Information

Size: 3.7 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter, sculptor, and performance artist Robert Delford Brown measure 3.7 linear feet and date from 1964-2009. The papers document his career as an artist and in particular the arts space "church" he founded in New York City, known as The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, church records, printed material, photographic material, and video records of performance art. Brown's early career is documented in one scrapbook containing photographs, notes, and press materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Delford Brown (1930-2009) was a performance artist in New York, New York. Brown was a participant in events as-art, happenings, in New York, during the 1960s. He frequently performed in the persona of a religious leader and founder of his own religion, The First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc.

Provenance

Donated 2010 by Lynda Roscoe Hartigan who purchased the collection at auction.

A Finding Aid to the Robert Delford Brown Papers,
1964-2009
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.browrober
Author
Finding aid prepared by Erin Kinhart
Biographical Note
Robert Delford Brown (1930-2009) was a painter, sculptor, and performance artist practicing in New York City, N.Y. Brown was a participant in many art happenings in New York during the 1960s and frequently performed in the persona of a religious leader and founder of his own religion and church, The First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc. which functioned as a community arts space.
Brown was born in Portland, Colorado. His family later moved to Long Beach, California, and he recived bachelor's and master's degrees at University of California, Los Angeles. He began his career as a Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist painter, and in 1959 moved to New York City. In 1963 he married Rhett Cone. While visiting Paris he met the artist Allan Kaprow who encouraged him to participate in a 1964 performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Originale." This performance served as the inspiration for founding The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. That same year Brown also gained media attention for his "Meat Show," an installation of raw meat which he created in a refrigerated room at the Washington Meat Market in New York City.
In 1967 Brown selected a former New York City branch library as a home for his church and hired Modernist architect Paul Rudolph to redesign the interior. He called the space "The Great Building Crack-Up" and lived there until 1997, hosting art exhibitions, happenings, and preaching his philosophy known as Pharblongence. During Brown's later career he organized many participatory art events, such as "Collaborative Action Gluings." He moved to Houston, Texas in 1997 and later moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, in preparation for a solo exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum in 2008. Robert Delford Brown died in 2009.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1992-2009 (Box 1, 5; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1970-2009 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 3: First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. Records, 1968-2000s (Box 1, 4, 5; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1964-2008 (Box 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Photographic Material, 1965-2009 (Box 2-3; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 6: Video Recordings of Performance Art, 1994-2005 (Box 3; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Scrapbook, 1964-1974 (Box 5; 4 folders)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter, sculptor, and performance artist Robert Delford Brown measure 3.7 linear feet and date from 1964-2009. The papers document his career as an artist and in particular the arts space "church" he founded in New York City, known as The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, church records, printed material, photographic material, and video records of performance art. Brown's early career is documented in one scrapbook containing photographs, notes, and press materials.
Biographical material includes a career summary, one diary, one interview transcript, and two interview recordings on videocassette. Correspondence is minimal and includes four letters written by Brown and letters and postcards from others. Printed material consists mostly of books and event announcements documenting Brown's career. Photographs depict his travels in Brazil and China, artwork, and a collaborative event in Paris. Video recordings depict a solo performance art piece and three collaborative performance art events.
Records of the First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. include items produced for events, such as graphics, a t-shirt, "teachings," as well as reproductions of artwork created as part of the church. Also included are founding documents and manifestos.
One scrapbook contains detailed documentation on Brown's career from 1964 to 1974. Included are photographs and press materials for his "Meat Show" event, additional records of the founding of his church, and photographs of various events and happenings at his church. People depicted in the photographs include Brown, Claes Oldenburg, and art critic Mario Amaya, among others.
Provenance
Donated 2010 by Lynda Roscoe Hartigan who purchased the collection at auction.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level and described in a finding aid in 2012 by Erin Kinhart.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Robert Delford Brown papers, 1964-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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