The papers of art historian and educator Milton Wolf Brown date from 1908 to 1998 and measure 26.0 linear feet. The collection documents Brown's career through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, publishers, colleagues, artists, museums, and art organizations, travel journals, files for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, exhibition, research, teaching, and organization files, printed material, and scattered photographs. A large portion of this collection consists of writings by Brown including notebooks, draft writings for books and other publications, lectures, and his writings as a student.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art historian and educator Milton Wolf Brown date from 1908 to 1998 and measure 25.8 linear feet. The collection documents Brown's career through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, publishers, colleagues, artists, museums, and art organizations, travel journals, files for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, exhibition, research, teaching, and organization files, printed material, and scattered photographs. A large portion of this collection consists of writings by Brown including notebooks, draft writings for books and other publications, lectures, and his writings as a student.
Biographical material includes academic records, travel documents, financial documents, Brown's military records, and a transcript of a 1997 interview. Correspondence is with students, museums, universities, publishers, art organizations, and others. The bulk of these letters document Brown's professional activities, but also found are scattered letters from friends, artists, and colleagues such as Russell Lynes, Stanley Meltzoff, Louis Lozowick, Erwin Panofsky, and Paul Sachs.
This collection also contains 33 detailed travel journals written primarily by Milton Brown's wife, Blanche, documenting their travels in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world. Within the writings series are notebooks from the period that Brown was a student and while traveling in Europe in 1959 and 1960; book project files, which include draft writings as well as related correspondence, research material, notes, photographs and other material. Files are found for American Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Decorative Arts, Photography (1979), American Painting, From the Armory Show to the Depression (1955), The Story of the Armory Show (1963, 1988 2nd ed.), and other books. Among the writings are files for lectures written by Brown; essays, articles, and scripts written for various publications; general research notes and student writings; and writings by others sent to Brown for review and feedback.
Brown maintained a set of files documenting his work on the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, which consist of correspondence, drafts, reports, and research materials, including notes on twenty meetings with Mrs. Prendergast. Exhibition files document Brown's work as curator on several major exhibitions, including a Jacob Lawrence exhibition at the Whitney Museum, and his contributions to others. Also found here are three interviews of Milton Brown and Marcel Duchamp concerning the 50th Anniversary of the Armory Show and anniversary exhibition. Research files include notes, research material, and printed material on various art-related subjects that were maintained by Milton and Blanche Brown for regular use for lectures, teaching, and writing projects. Brown's teaching files contain scattered lecture notes, syllabi, correspondence, faculty records, and other materials from his time at CUNY, Brooklyn College, and other visiting professorships. Organization Files contain correspondence, reports, planning documents, and event materials. These records document his membership or advisory role in various organizations such as the Archives of American Art and Century Association.
This collection also contains printed material, such as exhibition announcements, newsletters, brochures, journals, event programs, and magazine and newspapers clippings compiled by Brown. Scattered photographs include nine photographs of Milton Brown, a few photographs of friends, and photographs of artwork.
The collection is arranged as 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1932-1998 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1908, 1934-1998 (Boxes 1-3; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Travel Journals, 1941-1996 (Boxes 3-4; 1.6 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, circa 1929-1990s (Boxes 4-13, 25; 8.7 linear feet)
Series 5: Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, circa 1952-1990 (Boxes 13-14, 25; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Exhibition Files, 1962-circa 1997 (Boxes 14-16, 28; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 7: Research Files, circa 1930s-1986 (Boxes 16-19; 3.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Teaching Files, circa 1946-1993 (Boxes 19-21; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 9: Organization Files, 1959-1995 (Boxes 21-22; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 10: Printed Material, 1925-1990s (Boxes 22-24, 26, 27; 3.2 linear feet)
Series 11: Photographs, circa 1956-1990s (Boxes 25, 27; 0.2 linear feet)
Milton Wolf Brown (1911-1998) was an art historian and educator in New York City.
Known to his friends as "Mainey," Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1911. At a young age he intended to be a painter and studied with Louis Lozowick. However, instead of attending art school, he entered New York University to study education and eventually received his master's and doctorate in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. While there he took courses with Walter Friedlander, Erwin Panofsky, and Mayer Schapiro. He also received fellowships to the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1934 and Brussels in 1937, and studied from 1938-1939 at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. In 1938 he married fellow student Blanche Levine. After serving in World War II, he began teaching in the art department at Brooklyn College in 1946. There he developed a specialization in American art history and his doctoral dissertation, American Painting from the Armory Show to the Depression, was published in 1955. In 1963 he participated in the fiftieth anniversary exhibition of the 1913 Armory Show. The publication of his book Story of the Armory Show coincided with this event.
In 1971 Brown established the graduate program in Art History at the City University of New York, which became preeminent in the areas of modern art and American art history. During the 1980s he remained a resident professor at CUNY, though he retired in 1979, and he held visiting professorships at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. From 1983 to 1987 he had a senior fellowship at Williams College for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project.
Over the course of his career Brown curated exhibitions, including an exhibition on the works of Jacob Lawrence and The Modern Spirit: American Painting and Photography, 1908-1935, and wrote for numerous publications. He also served as an active member of several professional societies. Brown was close friends with art scholars and artists, such as Jack Levine, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Ad Reinhardt, and Paul Strand. In 1991 he returned to painting landscape watercolors, and had the opportunity to exhibit his work before his death in 1998.
Also at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Milton Wolf Brown, conducted in 1976 by Paul Cummings.
The Milton Wolf Brown papers were donated in 2000 and 2001 by Blanche R. Brown, Brown's widow. Three reel-to reel sound recordings were lent for duplication to cassette and transcript in 1986 by Milton Brown. A cassette copy of the Martha Deane interview was donated in 2006 by Milton Brown's estate, via Naomi Rosenblum. Additional material was donated in 2002 and 2004 by Naomi Rosenblum, executor for the estate of Blanche R. Brown, who died in 2002.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Milton Wolf Brown papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.