For his fourth solo show at Western Exhibitions, Remastériser, Marshall Brown presents collages from three new and ongoing bodies of work. Brown, an architect and artist, continues his ongoing project to give form to the interactions between architecture and power through acts of world-making. He utilizes the power of collage as a medium that changes the terms of authorship and challenges outdated definitions of originality. In his most recent work Brown dissects images by contemporary architectural photographers and artists who take architecture as their subject, using the historically disruptive properties of collage and montage to create new forms, spaces, and narratives. The show opens on Friday, April 28 with a public reception from 5 to 8pm, and will run through June 17, 2023. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm.
For Remastérise, Brown presents selections from three collage series. Prisons of Invention andPiranesian Maps of Berlin debuted in his survey of collage work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art [SBMA] in the fall of 2022, foregrounding the conceptual foundations of his explorations at the intersection of architecture and art. The final, and newest series, Forgeries, will be on view for the first time at Western Exhibitions.
The worlds portrayed in the Prisons of Invention series invoke an expanded range of scales, from architectural to urban to landscape, while challenging our experience of gravity, orientation and space-time. Borrowing their name from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s etching series Carceri d’invenzione (ca. 1749-50), these collages mark a significant increase in scale and complexity, creating immersive visions reminiscent of the Italian master’s multilayered imaginary prisons. The enlargement process requires seams to be used both within and between image fragments. Artist’s tape for temporary positioning is not removed but remains as part of the work, and the source material comes entirely from a select group of photographers working on architecture, urbanism, and landscape at the beginning of the 21st century.
Recalling Piranesi’s map of the Campus Martius (1762) and the map of Rome, created with Giambattista Nolli (1748), Marshall Brown’s large (96 x 72 inches), multi-paneled collage Piranesian Map of Berlin, ca. 1800-1690 exists at the intersection of reality and uncertainty, portraying cities that could have been or others that might yet be. The source material is a series of technical documents created by the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and Environmental Protection in 1986, shortly before the city’s unification. Here Brown is investigating how urban plans project order by abstracting urban reality, reveling in the precision and beauty of maps to reassure us that we know enough to continue building in the face of constant uncertainty. James Glisson, curator at the SBMA, states in the catalog for Brown’s show there, “both Piranesi and Brown take maps as forums for dreaming and imagining, sheets of paper transformed by the artist’s willful intervention. Neither, however, creates maps of mythical realms, alien planets, or an Earth centuries hence. Their dreaming is circumscribed by history and its manifestations in the built environment.”
The Forgeries are Brown’s newest body of work that responds directly to contemporary art’s portrayals of architecture. In these pieces, Brown dismantles photographs by several contemporary artists and reassembles them to create collages that borrow pictorial strategies from the early modern architect and prolific collagist, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The Forgeries play a double game. Brown retools Mies’ pictorial flatland as a mirror to reflect contemporary art’s gaze back on itself and constructs new spaces that subvert our attempts to separate the two creative worlds of architecture and art.
Marshall Brown is an artist and architect whose work creates new connections, associations, and meanings among disconnected architectural and urban remnants. His 2022-23 show, The Architecture of Collage at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, was Brown’s first solo museum exhibition and the most comprehensive presentation of his collages to date. Brown’s work is held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Photography and the University Club, both in Chicago. Brown has exhibited at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale,the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Arts Club of Chicago, the Architecture and Design Museum Los Angeles, and in a 10-year survey, Recurrent Visions: The Architecture of Marshall Brown Projects, at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Marshall Brown received his masters’ degrees at Harvard University. He is an associate professor with tenure at the Princeton University School of Architecture, where he directs the Princeton Urban Imagination Center. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
Pictured: Museum , 2023, collage on Arches watercolor paper, artist’s tape. 22.5 x 30 inches