Celebration of the Uncultivated—A Garden of the Wild
North America, American, Illinois
60 in. x 120 1/4 in. (152.4 cm x 305.44 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
Currently On View
© Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Roger Brown left his Alabama home of Opelika in 1962 to attend art school in Chicago, where he eventually became associated with the group known as the Chicago Imagists. These artists practiced a satirical and often irreverent art, influenced by popular media such as comics, advertising, and commercial art. Brown’s style, which has sometimes been compared to cartooning, blends a highly graphic presentation of simple shapes and repetitive patterns with an emblematic and schematized construction of objects in space. He utilized silhouettes to represent people and all manner of objects, from buildings and trees to his ubiquitous, pillow-like clouds. Much of Brown’s imagery was derived from the landscapes he saw during extensive travel, and also from current events. Many works feature a narrative progression of figures or episodes from one portion of the canvas to another, again much in the tradition of cartooning.
In 1979 Roger Brown began to plan the construction of a studio and home in New Buffalo, Michigan, a beach community northeast of Chicago. The residence functioned as a retreat from the city and as a vantage point from which to observe an evolving landscape. A sketchbook from 1980–81 contains a half-page study in black ballpoint pen for "Celebration of the Uncultivated—A Garden of the Wild", with the notation, “in celebration of the uncultivated.” As with much of Brown’s work, the title seems to be ironic. The orderly ranks of flowers he has so carefully depicted appear anything but wild.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 102, p. 236.