Artist Colleen Browning (1918-2003) played a significant role in America's contemporary realist movement in the years after 1950. Although she attained sensational early success on the American art scene, her fame has almost entirely evaporated. Fairfield University rediscovers and celebrates the career of this Anglo-American Realist painter with two exhibitions, mounted jointly by the Bellarmine Museum of Art and the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, and on currently on view through March 24, 2013. Exhibition sponsors are the National Endowment for the Humanities and Whole Foods Market. The media sponsor is Venü magazine.
The two Fairfield University exhibitions highlight not only this prolific artist's early works on paper and signature oils from the 1950s, in the Bellarmine Museum's "Colleen Browning: The Early Works exhibition," but also a selection of compelling oil paintings created in the years after 1960, in the Walsh Gallery's "Colleen Browning: A Brush With Magic."
These shows - which will be traveling nationally - were organized by the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA), the world's foremost repository oF Browning's work. The exhibitions, which have already appeared, in various formats, at Axis: Ballymun in Dublin, Ireland, at the National Academy Museum in New York City, and at SAMA, will travel to the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio (April 21-June 16, 2013) and the Amarillo Museum of Art in Texas (October 25, 2013 - January 5, 2014), following their Connecticut debut.
Colleen Browning, of Irish heritage, was born in England in 1918. A child prodigy, she was determined to be an artist from a very young age. She was still in her teens when she first exhibited in London, and she studied at the prestigious Slade School of Art on scholarship. Her first one-person show was in London's Little Art Gallery in 1949. That same year, she moved to New York City, where her works began arousing critical acclaim. She exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art's 1952 annual exhibition and held her first U.S. solo exhibition a year later, at the Edwin Hewitt Gallery in New York.
Colleen Browning had the ability to endow scenes from everyday life with touches of "magic realism." She played an instrumental role in the establishment of American Realism, a movement that was dominated by men in the mid-twentieth century. A leader in the modern and post-modern revivals of realism in American art, Browning was a painter whose oeuvre defies easy categorization. At a time when Jackson Pollock and avant-garde American artists were abandoning realism in favor of Abstract Expressionism, Browning stayed true to her Realist vision as well as her training as a figurative painter. Her works reveal a deft hand in the rendering of human anatomy and a facility with perspective: testaments to her studies at London's Slade School of Art, where she was introduced to the methods and manners of the Old Masters in keeping with the European academic tradition, which dates back to the 16th century. Complementing her academic training was Browning's remarkable capacity to capture fleeting moments.