Jean Brown

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Jean Brown (December 20, 1911 – May 1, 1994) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and is best known for her work as a librarian and art collector .[1] Her papers were acquired by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California, in 1985.[2]


Brown worked as a librarian.[3] She lived in Massachusetts.[3] Her home in Tyringham, MA, became a meeting place for Fluxus artists.[3] The Shaker Seed, as it was called, was an 1845 Shaker house.[3][1]

Brown's father was a rare-book dealer in Brooklyn.[2] Her husband, Leonard Brown, worked as an insurance agent.[2]


Brown collected art with her husband Leonard Brown (1909–1970).[4] They began collecting Abstract Expressionism, but turned to Dada and Surrealism when AbEx became too expensive.[4] Brown collected 6,000 artworks by Fluxus, beginning in the 1970s.[3]

Brown's collecting developed in parallel to her friendships with artists.[4] Duchamp visited the Browns at their home.[4] She cultivated a lifelong friendship with George Maciunas, from whom she purchased Fluxus artworks.[3] Brown commissioned Maciunas to design a room in her house to house her Fluxus collection.[3]

In addition to Fluxus, Brown collected Surrealism, Dada, and post-war art.[3] Brown's collection was the first collection of contemporary art by the Getty.[4] It was acquired for its strengths in Dada and Surrealism; the Fluxus materials and artists' books were an unexpected acquisition.[5]


  1. ^ a b Biographical/Historical note, Jean Brown Papers, 1916-1995 (bulk 1958-1985). Los Angeles, Calif.: Research Library, Getty Research Institute. Completed May 1997, revised Sep 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Roberta (May 4, 1994). Jean Brown, 13, Avid Collector Of Dada, Surrealism and Fluxus. The New York Times. Accessed January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Chernick, Karen (2020-12-28). "The Insurance Saleswoman Who Built a World-Class Collection of Fluxus Art". Artsy. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Getty: Resources for Visual Art and Cultural Heritage". Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  5. ^ "Visiting the 'Den Mother' of Fluxus Art". Retrieved 2022-07-06.

External links[edit]

Finding Aid for the Jean Brown Papers, 1916-1995 (bulk 1958-1985) at the Getty Research Institute. It includes a biographical/ historical section.