About the CollectionThe Brown and Campbell Collection contains the work of artists William Addison Campbell and Frank Julian Brown. The two met when Frank Brown attended the California College of Arts and Crafts after his discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1946. William Campbell had been an instructor at CCAC prior to the war and returned to teach there after his own Navy discharge in 1945. During the post-war years, the abstract expressionist movement was gaining the attention of art communities nationwide. Painters such as Hassel Smith, Clyfford Still, Edward Corbett, James Budd Dixon and others were regarded as important painters in the San Francisco movement. W. Campbell first exhibited at the then San Francisco Museum of Art (now SF MOMA) in 1935 while a student at the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute). During the 1935 -- 1943 period he exhibited at the Museum at least eight times, with two one-man shows. The work that has survived from that period such as The Kiss (1942, cat. no. 0549); In the Sun (c. 1943, cat. no. 0606); and even "Defiance" (1942, cat. no. 0614), reflect the pre-war work being done that ushered in the post-war movement. Until recently it seemed that Brown and Campbell spent much of their post war time in Mexico forsaking the abstraction taking place in San Francisco. Their work in the late 40's was thought to be almost exclusively landscapes of the Mexican countryside and villages, with similar figurative works, even a handful of the "big feet" paintings by Frank Brown in seeming tribute to Diego Rivera. However, with the finding of new works (June 2007), the influence of the post-war abstract movement can be seen in the work of both artists. These new works have now been catalogued and are available for viewing on the web site. In the 1950's the abstract expressionist movement was defining contemporary art. Frank Brown did a series of paintings but only a few truly non-objective abstractions. It was during those years that the dispute Brown had with an art critic took place that resulted in the withdrawal from the art scene by both artists. It seems that while F. Brown continued to paint, W. Campbell stopped. There are no paintings in the Collection by W. Campbell during the years 1950 -- 1980. I once asked him in the 1970's if he still painted and he said no, alluding to a deference to Frank Brown. He did resume painting shortly before he died in 1985 and there are 13 paintings from 1980 -- 1983. After W. Campbell died in 1985, painting became Frank Brown's refuge. About 125 of his paintings were done in his last years and show a return to the traditional style begun in the early '60's. The great majority of those paintings are landscapes that have the loneliness and solitude he felt with the loss of his lifelong partner. He lived alone in the San Francisco house he had occupied with Campbell since 1955 until he died there in April of 2000. When W. Campbell died in 1985 he left all that was his to Frank Brown. When Frank Brown died in 2000 he fulfilled W. Campbell's request of him that all that was theirs be placed into a trust to be administered by the estate trustees, Dexter Garnier and Judith Garnier his wife. When the trustees began to catalog the estate the paintings were left for last due to their sheer numbers and the time it would take to do it. Finally, in Summer of 2006 the cataloging of the collection began. There are 150 paintings hanging on the walls of the painters' Victorian San Francisco home. The large attic with many dark corners and angles were searched and many paintings were retrieved. About 70 paintings, 50 from the Mexico period of the late '40's were found rolled up, 10 - 20 paintings to a roll. In the upstairs studio where they painted, overlooking their garden, there were paintings everywhere, just everywhere. There were several card board boxes of paintings, all 16 x 20 in the studio, 20 or so to a box. All the work was gathered and by the end of August images of all the paintings had been obtained except for stragglers that kept being found, and are still being found. Many of F. Brown's paintings are difficult to date. There are 98 paintings that are dated by the artists (57 Campbells, 41 Browns). These were useful in dating others. When the trustees first visited Mssrs. Campbell and Brown in 1971 they remember paintings that were on the walls of their home so this was also helpful with dating. There are 4 paintings with the artist's date of 2000 on them, the last four months of the artist's life. Mr. Brown also sold several of his paintings in the last year or so that he lived. 140 of the paintings are unsigned. Most are easily attributed as having been painted by F. Brown. Some are difficult to assign. As far as is known there were no paintings that were collaborative efforts. Dexter Garnier, trustee
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