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Robert Delford Brown papers, 1964-2009

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.