"At the present time, when graffiti are scribbled on virtually every available public surface, the idea of scrawling a child's face over a poster or an ad page from a popular magazine might seem obvious. But that was not the case in the early Sixties when Herb Brown began the practice with a vengeance. Legitimately and by stealth, he acquired stacks of advertising pages and subway posters and used them as the grounds for his paintings. He allowed bits of lettering and illustration to show through, as if the basic issue was the juxtaposition of his hot, personal, calligraphic smear on top and the cool, inert neatness of advertising art underneath... a group of erotic paintings so blatant and ferocious that they may give pause to D. H. Lawrence—or, to that matter to Henry Miller, a direct source of Brown's inspiration."
—From an essay by Budd Hopkins, 1993.
HERBERT BROWN AT THE JANOS GAT GALLERY | Review by J. Bowyer Bell | Published in: Herbert Brown, Subway Posters Repainted, Catalog, Janos Gat Gallery 1998 | In the Fifties, as now, no one knew what would next be pronounced an art movement, only that the Second generation of the New York School no longer piqued the interest of the cognoscenti and investors. Some of the first to seek a new image, a new way, using the language of the New York School but in defiance of its canons, were the NO!artists. NO! meant no to the times, to the hidden compromise below the self-involved surface. Transforming popular images, they created NO!art: crude, rude, not pop but populist. Herbert Brown and the other NO!artists moved towards a shore few wanted to visit. They introduced another way of seeing—for our times; not popular at all, but political and confrontational, and at times ugly by intent. ►more
HERBERT BROW | Review by Matthias Reichelt | Published in: Herbert Brown, Subway Posters Repainted, Catalog, Janos Gat Gallery 1998 | The oeuvre of Herbert Brown includes a wide spectrum of artworks from distinct creative periods. A student of Max Beckmann at the Brooklyn Museum School of Fine Arts, Brown started with expressionist-figurative painting before moving on to the abstract. After years in the NO!art movement, he continued with works that were semi-conceptual; his recent direction is Constructivism de-constructed. In the late Fifties—as in the present—those on the cutting edge gathered in the East Village. The artists that came together in the cooperative galleries along 10th Street were not yet known for their works but felt limited by an art-scene which narrowed itself first to Abstract Expressionism and later to Pop Art, and which refused to confront the conservative political tendencies of the time. ►more
Paintings & VIDEO Works FROM THE 1960s | Review by Megan Marie Garwood | Published in: The Mag / The Art World | Herbert Brown’s work from the sixties offers an artist’s view of a decade shrouded in the penumbra of social dichotomies: peace and war, sexuality and prudence, individual and caste, counter-culture and consumption. His paintings are comprised of ripped pieces of paper from advertisements or subway posters adhered to stretched canvas that are then painted over with thick wide brushstrokes of rich dark hues. The subject matter revolves around warriors, nudes and cultural icons. His video installations utilize an oil painting juxtaposed against a television, which eerily coalesce his art with recorded television images from the sixties. Brown’s works reflect on three major motifs scrutinized in the sixties: commodification, the Vietnam war and experimentation in sexuality. His subversive strokes, alluding to sixties’s graffiti style, manipulate pervasive imagery, resulting in multiple layers of abstract figuration, sexually charged subject matter, and social commentary applicable to social awareness in 2010. ►more