Frederick James Brown (1945-2012) was a New York City and Arizona-based American artist. Drawing from his African-American and Native American ancestry, and breadth of knowledge in art historical tradition, Brown's work engages with American history and music, the urban fabric, religion, and spirituality.
Born in Georgia and raised in Chicago's South Side, Brown settled in a loft in Soho during the New York Art Renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s. There, he collaborated with jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton, and abstract expressionist painter Willem De Kooning among others. The 2002 documentary film 120 Wooster Street depicts Frederick Brown’s loft studio, which grew to be a central gathering place for artists, musicians, writers, dancers and performance artists. Eventually, Brown settled in Arizona, and continued to paint in New York and Scottsdale.
Brown’s work is in public and private art collections throughout the world, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the American Jazz Museum. Brown’s one-man exhibitions include the Studio Museum of Harlem, Marlborough Gallery and a twenty-year retrospective held at the National Museum of China in Beijing in 1988, one of the first solo exhibitions by a western artist in China.
Major art projects include his 1983 version of The Last Supper; The Assumption of Mary, a three-story tall mural painted in 1992 at Xavier University in New Orleans; The History of Art, a group of 110 interlocking paintings at Café Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art created in the 1990s; and his extensive series of over 350 portraits of jazz and blues musicians.