William Theophilus Brown – Bay Area Figurative Artist

In 1952, San Francisco artist William Theophilus Brown (born 1919) left New York, where he was experimenting with Abstract Expressionism, to develop a more personal style of painting. A graduate of Yale’s art school, Brown studied at the University of California, Berkeley where he met fellow Bay Area Figurative painters, including Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and his future partner, Paul Wonner. In 1956, his “Football” paintings were featured in Life magazine and two years later he had his first solo exhibition at the Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles. Bathed in vibrant color and rich landscapes, the human figure became the primary subject matter of his paintings. These seminal works such as Untitled (Nude with trellis & landscape) (1961), evocative of the French Impressionists in subject matter and abstraction yet distinctly Bay Area Figurative in color and style, contributed to this pivotal West Coast art movement. An experiment in mixed media, his Untitled (Portrait Study) (circa 1960) combines the restrained detail of drawing with vigorous and sweeping strokes of paint to depict a moment of strained concentration. Brown has taught at various institutions, including the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco and the University of California, Davis. Currently, Brown creates abstract mixed media collages out of his studio in San Francisco.

– Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer 

Literature: “William Theophilus Brown.” Eesgallery.com. Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery, 2011. Web. 27 Aug. 2011.

“William Theophilus Brown.” Hacketfreedman.com. Hackett-Freedman Gallery, 2011. Web. 27 Aug. 2011.

Lot Information

Lot 56
William Theophilus Brown
Untitled (Figure on lounge chair)
Oil on board
Signed and dated lower right
Image: 10″ x 13.5″; Frame: 13.5″ x 17.25″
Estimate $3,000 – 5,000

Lot 57
William Theophilus Brown
Untitled (Nude with trellis and landscape)
Oil on masonite
Initialed and dated lower left, signed and dated verso
Board: 11.75″ x 15.5″; Frame: 12.5″ x 16.25″
Sold with 1967 exhibition catalog from Felix Landau Gallery.
Estimate $3,000 – 5,000

Lot 58
William Theophilus Brown
Untitled (Portrait study)
c. 1960
Mixed media on paper
Signed “William Brown” lower right
Image: 13.5″ x 10.5″; Frame: 19″ x 15.75″
Estimate $1,500 – 2,000


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