Colleen Browning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Colleen Browning
Colleen Browning

(1918-05-16)16 May 1918
Shoeburyness, England
Died22 August 2003(2003-08-22) (aged 85)
New York City, NY, U.S.
NationalityEnglish, American
Known forPainter
MovementRealism (art), Magic realism

Colleen Browning (May 16, 1918 – August 22, 2003, New York, NY) was an Anglo-American realist and magical realist painter.

Early life[edit]

Colleen Browning was born 16 May 1918 in Shoeburyness, England.[1] As a child, Browning was a gifted artist. Her parents enrolled her in the Farnham School of Arts in 1933.[1] In 1934 she exhibited at the Women in Arts Society in London.[1] In 1935 she attended the Salisbury School of Arts and Craft.[1] In that year she also exhibited her drawings and paintings at the Whitechapel Gallery.[1]

Browning attended London's Slade School of Art on a full scholarship from 1937 to 1939.[2] In 1942, she worked as a mapmaker for the Royal Air Force during World War II.[2] Browning later worked as a set designer in London for the Two Cities Film Studios, which was later to become the J. Arthur Rank Film Corporation.[1] In 1948 Browning met the English writer Geoffrey Wagner while on vacation on the island of Ischia.[3] They quickly decided to marry in America, where Wagner had been hired to teach at the University of Rochester.[3]


In 1949 she emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City.[4] Browning became an American citizen a year later. The artist lived in New York City for the next five decades.[5] Browning was a major figure in the realism (arts) movement in New York City during a time when Abstract Realism and the art of Jackson Pollock was beginning to rise to prominence.[6] In particular, Browning often painted New York City and scenes of urban life.[2] For instance her painting Holiday (1951-2) depicts a street scene that Browning captured while living on 116th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.[2] In 1952 she exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art.[3] In 1953 she held a solo exhibition at the Edwin Hewitt Gallery in New York City.[3]

In her later career, Browning created works in the style of magic realism that increasingly blurred the lines between the real and the imagined.[7] In works such as Picture of a Painting of the Great Circus Parade (1988) and Black Umbrella (1970) the artist captures a real event but with a focus on the wonderful and a blurred sense of reality.[7]

Browning also taught art. She was a professor at Pratt Institute and the City College of New York. In addition she taught at the National Academy of Design from 1978 to 1982.[8]

Browning died in New York City on August 22, 2003.[1] According to her wishes, a substantial collection of her paintings was bequeathed to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.[3]


Browning was a National Academician.[8] She served on the Academy Council from 1969 to 1972.[8]

Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Walker Art Gallery, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. During her lifetime, Browning's work was also reproduced in numerous publications, including Time, The New York Times, Newsweek and American Artist.[3]

In 2013 a retrospective of the artist's work was organized at Fairfield University through Colleen Browning: The Early Works at the Bellarmine Gallery and Colleen Browning: A Brush with Magic at the Thomas J. Walsh Jr. Art Gallery.[9]

Work in collections[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Selected Chronology" Southern Alleghenies Art Museum, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Hodara, Susan. "High Points, and Other Stops, in a Painter's Career". New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Boros, Phylis A.S. "Lifting the 'metaphoric veil' on Colleen Browning" The Connecticut Post, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  4. ^ Dunne, Susan. "Fairfield U Exhibits Paintings of Realist Colleen Browning" The Hartford Courant, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  5. ^ Eliasoph, Philip. "Colleen Browning: The Enchantment of Realism", Hudson Hills, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  6. ^ "The career of artist Colleen Browning is rediscovered in two exhibitions at Fairfield University", Fairfield University, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b Dimond, V. Scott. "Curator's Statement" Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d "Colleen Browning" National Academy Museum, Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Past Exhibitions", Fairfield University, Retrieved 18 April 2014.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Eliasoph, Philip. Colleen Browning: The Enchantment of Realism (2011). Hudson Press.