Born Poland 1918, arrived Australia 1933, died Melbourne 2009
Although best known as a leading Australian art collector, dealer and philanthropist, Dr Joseph Brown has privately been a committed artist. Brown showed an early talent for drawing and was first exhibited at the Princes Hill Central School in Melbourne, which he attended during the 1930s after arriving in Australia from Poland. Following school he continued his art studies through night classes, first at the Working Men’s College (now RMIT University), and then at the Brunswick Technical College after winning a scholarship. By the late 1930s Joseph Brown was part of Melbourne’s artistic and intellectual circle and friends with Albert Tucker, Noel Counihan and Yosl Bergner among others.
Despite having to abandon his formal studies due to financial pressures and the onset of World War II, Brown continued to make art whenever possible. He exhibited with the Victorian Sculptors’ Society in the 1960s but ultimately the demands from his growing fashion business made it difficult to pursue a career as a professional artist. Over the following decades as he established himself in the Australian art world as a collector and dealer, he continued to paint, draw and sculpt. His interest in exploring abstraction within his practice dates back to the 1950s and is informed by his comprehensive knowledge of the development and proponents of abstract art in the twentieth century.
A major survey of his work, Dr Joseph Brown, a creative life: sixty-five years a private artist, was presented by the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne in 1999. Joseph Brown’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and many regional galleries.