Dean Brown's career as a photographer ended abruptly, while on assignment, at age 37. Brown was just beginning to achieve national and international recognition when he died in 1973.
Brown came to photography indirectly. Originally interested in linguistics, Brown ended up with Bachelor (Brooklyn College) and Masters (New York University) degrees in music. Shortly thereafter, he became progressively immersed in photography. Initially working in black and white and concentrating on portraiture, Brown was sensitive to technique and subject matter from the start. Brown first gained recognition for his Martin Luther King Funeral series. These images were photographed from television, printed in high contrast on Kodalith film and resulted in a portfolio in Camera. Subsequent series included opera houses in the US and Berlin and the deteriorating lower west side of Manhattan. Over the next few years, Brown continued with portraiture of both well-known and not so well-known subjects and produced several photoessays and completed many fashion and industrial assignments.
In 1969, after his first visit to California and the Southwest US, Brown developed an intense interest in color nature photography. Subsequently, Brown began photographing some of the less well-known venues of the southwest and then extended his range into the Sonoran Desert, Texas, Utah, New York, Alaska and the Northeast US. In contrast to many landscape and nature photographers, Brown was not interested in another "pretty picture." Rather, Dean Brown was committed to an accurate portrayal of the subtleties of form, composition, light and color. Brown used 35 mm cameras, wide angle lenses, small apertures and long exposures. Once the image was captured on film, Brown was determined to create an accurate representation of what he saw on paper. The only way he found to do this was by use of the demanding, time-consuming dye transfer process which he learned.
Brown's career was gaining traction. Participation in group exhibits at major venues (Whitney Museum, New York; George Eastman House, Rochester; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Ulster Museum, Belfast; and National Museum of Wales, Cardiff), solo exhibitions (Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio; Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois; and Akron Art Institute, Akron) and inclusion in more than sixteen photographic publications soon followed. As his reputation was increasing, his life was cut short in the pursuit of the craft he loved.
The Robert Anderson Gallery is exceptionally pleased to present more than 35 vintage Dean Brown dye transfer prints. Brown printed most of these nature images small (4" x 6"). It was Dean Brown's view that the small size enhanced the intimacy of the image. What you can observe in this exhibit of Dean Brown's nature photography are sublime, pristine, subtle jewels that are accurate representations of both grand and more intimate landscapes of nature and the American wilderness. Some of these images are in the posthumously published Photographs of the American Wilderness by Dean Brown (Amphoto, 1976). The Dean Brown Archive is housed in the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona.