Originally published in Getty magazine
As a break from time in their studios, mid-20th-century artists like Jean-Claude and Christo, Claes Oldenburg, and Marcel Duchamp sometimes journeyed to western Massachusetts.
There they’d visit the artist-friendly Berkshires region, with its performing arts centers at Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow. Nearby they’d enjoy the warm and appreciative atmosphere of visits with Leonard and Jean Brown.
Leonard Brown ran an insurance company by day, but the Browns’ true passion was art collecting. With a personalized approach that favored works they truly loved rather than works they viewed as investments, the Browns amassed a remarkable collection of Dada and surrealist illustrated books, prints, and photographs before Leonard’s passing in 1970.
But Jean’s collecting days were far from over. During the next decade, she focused her attention on Fluxus art—an under-the-radar movement that emphasized humor, works you can touch and interact with, and the rejection of elitism. Fluxus works embraced the social and political critiques of earlier avant-garde artists and questioned the authority of the contemporary art world. She became affectionately known as the “den mother of Fluxus” as she transformed her home into a bona fide archive and library of not only Fluxus art, but also of catalogues, books, posters, and handwritten notes from Fluxus artists.Continue reading