Joe Brown (sculptor)

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Benjamin Franklin - Craftsman (1981), Philadelphia, PA.

Joe Brown (March 20, 1909, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - March 14, 1985, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American figurative sculptor, specializing in athletes.


The son of Russian immigrants, he grew up in South Philadelphia and graduated South Philadelphia High School in 1926. A gifted athlete, he won a 1927 football scholarship to Temple University. He left before graduation, and briefly worked as a professional boxer. He made extra money as an artists' model, and became interested in studying sculpture. He served a 7-year apprenticeship under University of Pennsylvania professor and sculptor R. Tait McKenzie.[1]

Brown became the boxing coach at Princeton University in 1937, continuing until the early 1960s. He began teaching a sculpting course in 1939, became a resident artist at the university, and was made a full professor of art in 1962. He continued teaching at Princeton until his 1977 retirement.

He created more than 400 works - statuettes, portrait busts, and sculptures.[2] Examples are on many college campuses, and in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,[3] the National Academy of Design,[4] Princeton University Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library,[5] and the National Art Museum of Sport.[6]

Selected sculptures[edit]


  • Duke Kahanamoku (1940).[7] Duke Kahanamoku won gold medals in swimming at the 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games.
  • Jack Kelly (1942). Jack Kelly won gold medals in rowing at the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games.
  • Jesse Owens (1942).[8] Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in track & field at the 1936 Olympic Games.
  • Pieta (1944).[9] An exhausted boxer cradled by the referee. Winner of National Academy of Design's Barnett Prize.
  • Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) (1948–49), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio.[10] Huddie Ledbetter was a blues guitarist and jazz pioneer.
  • Bill Bradley (1965). Bill Bradley was a member of the U.S. basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Games.

Portrait busts[edit]

Full-Swing at Citizens Bank Park.
Punter at Citizens Bank Park.
Play at Second Base, showing the detailed footwork of the game
  • Bust of Robert Frost (1953), Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.[11]
  • Bust of Louis Brandeis (1961), Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.[12]
  • Bust of John Steinbeck (1964).


Veterans Stadium[edit]

Four of Brown's sculptures graced Veterans Stadium from 1976 to 2003. Removed priot to the 2004 demolition, the sculptures were restored and relocated in 2005. They are now located near Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


  1. ^ "Heroes with Feet of Clay," November 5, 1973 Sports Illustrated article [1]
  2. ^ List of works from SIRIS
  3. ^ Joe Brown from PAFA
  4. ^ Joe Brown from NAD
  5. ^ statuette of Discus Thrower from JFK Presidential Library
  6. ^ Joe Brown from NAMOS
  7. ^ Duke Kahanamoku
  8. ^ Jesse Owens
  9. ^ Pieta
  10. ^ Huddie Ledbetter from SIRIS
  11. ^ Robert Frost from SIRIS
  12. ^ Louis Brandeis from SIRIS
  13. ^ The Runner from SIRIS
  14. ^ Discus Thrower from SIRIS
  15. ^ Two Athletes from SIRIS
  16. ^ Benjamin Franklin - Craftsman from SIRIS
  17. ^ Punter from Flickr
  18. ^ The Punter from SIRIS
  19. ^ Full-Swing from Flickr
  20. ^ The Batter from SIRIS
  21. ^ Tackle from Flickr.
  22. ^ <Tackle from SIRIS
  23. ^ Play at Second from Flickr
  24. ^ Play at Second Base from SIRIS

External links[edit]