Robert Delford Brown died Sunday, April 5, at the age of 78, of presumed accidental drowning while scouting locations in Wilmington, North Carolina. Brown is too little recognized for his contribution to performance art or his revolutionary motto, “Everything is art, everyone is an artist; there is no not art.”
Robert Delford Brown was born in Colorado in 1930 and received his BA and MA from UCLA. In 1959 he moved to New York City, and became enmeshed in major (and fringe) art activities and movements alike –Pop Art, Happenings, Correspondence Art, Performance and Fluxus. In 1964, he “founded” the “First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc.,” establishing its headquarters within an ongoing architectural experiment he entitled “The Great Building Crack Up” On West 13th Street. Around the same time Brown was preparing Meat Show, which consisted of thousands of pounds of meat in a locker in New York ‘s Washington Meat Market. That work doubled as the First Grand Opening Service of The First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc.
Interview magazine remembers the artist via this interview from November 1972, conducted by critic and sometime hat designer Lil Picard:
LIL PICARD: “What do you want to tell the Artworld and the public in New York with your latest show of Fetichistic Art?”
ROBERT DELFORD BROWN: Let me tell you, all that started 1965. I tried to get these fetichistic photos enlarged and reproduced. So I went to Jack Golden, who at that time, when he was still alive, did silkscreens for Warhol, Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers and many others…and he tried to get a photo lab for me and he asked six studios, but they all wouldn’t do it. They thought it too pornographic and therefore too dangerous to fool around with. They refused, because the lab had women working for them, and they didn’t want to upset people. So I went to Lawrence Alloway, who was at that time at the Guggenheim Museum, because I thought if I get a letter that I am a serious artist, and somebody of authority speaks for me, I will find a place to do the enlargements. And I found a very good place, “Modern Age,” they kept the negatives in their safe…but you see, times changes so fast, now those things of 1967 are really innocent stuff and nothing exceptional anymore, but in 1965 that was a bitch…
LP: What is it that fascinates you so much with this theme and subject matter, the freak photos of sex pathology?
RDB: I don’t know why I did them, I seem to be interested and fascinated by morbid things. The law saved my by a fate worse than death-I am telling you-because I was also at that time, when I was doing those Fetich-things, mailing away letters and checks to get rar porno Material and porno films-but you’ll see I do everything as an artist, just like the Great Building Crack-Up, I never think about the outcome of things. Whatever I do, I do as an artistic enterprise.
To continue reading Lil Picard’s interview with Robert Delford Brown, please visit Interviewmagazine.com.