Vivian E. Browne

Vivian E. Browne (April 26, 1929July 23, 1993) was an American artist. Born in Laurel, Florida, Browne was mostly known for her African-American protest paintings, and linking abstraction to nature. She has received multiple awards for her work, been an activist, professor and a founder of many galleries. According to her mother, Browne died at 64 from bladder cancer.[1]

Vivian E. Browne
Born(1929-04-26)April 26, 1929
DiedJuly 23, 1993(1993-07-23) (aged 64)
Manhattan, New York, United States
EducationHunter College
Known forPainting


Vivian Browne was born in Laurel, Florida, on April 26, 1929.[2] She spent most of her life in New York City and Kern County, California. She received her Bachelor of Science in 1950 from Hunter College, New York, NY and a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College in 1959. Her early painting career was fostered by a scholarship from the New School for Social Research, and a Huntington Hartford Foundation fellowship in 1964 and a fellowship with the MacDowell Colony.[3]

She was invested in her travels across Europe and Africa, also studying at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1972. Browne worked at Rutgers University in Newark from 1971 to 1992 as a Faculty member of the Arts and Sciences department while continuing as an artist in her own right with shows across the country.


Browne had multiple solo exhibitions at SoHo 20 Gallery during her lifetime, as well as exhibitions at the Bronx Museum, University of California, Santa Cruz and Western Michigan University.[4] She also showed at MoMA PS1's space in the Clocktower Gallery in 1986.[5]

In 2017, Browne was posthumously included in the exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, organized by the Brooklyn Museum.[6] In 2018, her work was also shown in Acts of Art and Rebuttal in 1971, an exhibition at Hunter College that revisited the 1971 exhibition Rebuttal to the Whitney Museum Exhibition: Black Artists in Rebuttal organized by members of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition to protest the Whitney Museum’s refusal to appoint a Black curator for their survey Contemporary Black Artists in America.[7] Browne had been considered for the Whitney's exhibition but was ultimately not included.[8]


Browne's work is housed in public and private collections all over the United States, primarily in New York and California. Most notably her work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian[9] with the Robert Blackburn (artist) printmaking workshop, MOMA,[10] the Schomburg Center NYC, Chase Manhattan Bank the John Cotton Dana Library, the Hatch-Billops Collection, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, The New York Public Library and the Harry Belafonte & Rosa Parks private collections.[11] Browne is included in the Center for the Women in the Arts and Humanities virtual exhibit at Rutgers University.[12]


Many of Browne's works, particularly those from the 1960s, showcase her dissatisfaction with the struggles of growing up as a disenfranchised black woman. "Black art is political. If it's not political, it's not black art".[11] While she fought for equality, she was not optimistic about attitudes changing soon, and self categorized her look at art into two categories. "When I am political, I am painting as a black or as a woman or both. Otherwise, I am just a member of the human race." She taught the History of Black Art at Rutgers University, and served as chair of the department from 1975-1978.

Browne contributed to, and served as an advisor to, HERESIES: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics, including serving on the editorial collective for issue #15, Racism is the Issue. [13]

Major Achievements

In addition to serving as a professor and department chair at Rutgers, Browne was honored most notably for her political works showcasing her life as a black woman. She served as a Fulbright panelist in 1990, and spent much of her time in the 70s and 80s in exhibit curation and symposia. Her many experiences as a panelist include the 1971 NYC's Art Student's League's Symposium on Afro-American Art, the 1973, 1974 and 1976 National Conference of Artists and the NEA amongst others. She was also part of the Soho20 Chelsea,[1] a Broome Street gallery. Additionally, she has been featured in over 80 group and solo exhibitions, including at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Orlando Gallery and the Black Art Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.[3]


  • 1998 SIGNS, Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Cover Illustration, published by the University of Chicago
  • 1998 African American Art, Oxford University Press pg.217
  • 1998 Not for Sale: Feminism and Art in the USA During the 1970s, a video tape and book by Laura Cottingham, Hawkeye Productions, New York, NY
  • 1986 Heresies Magazine, Illustration, 15th Issue
  • 1985 Artists and Influences, Hatch Billops
  • 1980 Heresies Magazine, Illustration, 9th Issue
  • 1979 Heresies Magazine, Photo essay on China, 8th Issue
  • 1975 Ararat Magazine,
  • 1973 Impressions, Contributor to: 8x10 Art Portfolio (1971–73), published by the Printmaking Workshop, New York, NY,
  • 1972 Attica Book
  • 1972 "Afro-American Art, Annotated Bibliography", published by the New York City Board of Education


Vivian Browne was the recipient of multiple awards throughout her life.


  1. "Vivian E. Browne, 64, Painter and Professor". The New York Times. 1993-07-31. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  2. "Vivian E. Browne CV". The Crows Nest Studio. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  3. Heller, Jules, Heller, Nancy G (1995). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century, A Biographical Dictionary. New York & London: Garland Publishing. p. 93. ISBN 0-8240-6049-0.
  4. Heller, Jules and Nancy G. (1997). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge. ISBN 978-0815325840.
  5. "Progressions: A Cultural Legacy".
  6. "Group Show at Brooklyn Museum".
  7. "Acts of Art and Rebuttal in 1971".
  8. Pobric, Pac. "Acts of Art and Rebuttal in 1971".
  9. "Artworks Search Results / American Art". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  10. "MoMA | MoMA PS1 Artists". Archived from the original on 2015-10-12. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  11. Hamalian, L.. (1985). Talking to Vivian Browne. Black American Literature Forum, 19(1), 48–50.
  12. "Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  13. "Full text of "Heresies Magazine Issue #20: Heresies (Volume 5, Number 4)"". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.