A Finding Aid to the Robert Delford Brown Papers,
1964-2009
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.browrober
Creators:
Brown, Robert Delford
Dates:
1964-2009
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.9 Linear feet
7.98 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of painter, sculptor, and performance artist Robert Delford Brown measure 3.9 linear feet and 7.98 GB and date from 1964-2009. The papers document his career as an artist and in particular the arts space "church" he founded in New York City, known as The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, church records, printed and digital material, photographic material, and video records of performance art. Brown's early career is documented in one scrapbook containing photographs, notes, and press materials.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter, sculptor, and performance artist Robert Delford Brown measure 3.9 linear feet and 7.98 GB and date from 1964-2009. The papers document his career as an artist and in particular the arts space "church" he founded in New York City, known as The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, church records, printed and digital material, photographic material, and video records of performance art. Brown's early career is documented in one scrapbook containing photographs, notes, and press materials.
Biographical material includes a career summary, one diary, one interview transcript, and two interview recordings on videocassette. Correspondence is minimal and includes four letters written by Brown and letters and postcards from others. Printed material consists mostly of books and event announcements documenting Brown's career. Photographs depict his travels in Brazil and China, artwork, and a collaborative event in Paris. Video recordings depict a solo performance art piece and three collaborative performance art events.
Records of the First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. include items produced for events, such as graphics, a t-shirt, "teachings," as well as reproductions of artwork created as part of the church. Also included are founding documents and manifestos.
One scrapbook contains detailed documentation on Brown's career from 1964 to 1974. Included are photographs and press materials for his "Meat Show" event, additional records of the founding of his church, and photographs of various events and happenings at his church. People depicted in the photographs include Brown, Claes Oldenburg, and art critic Mario Amaya, among others.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1992-2009 (Box 1, 5; 0.7 linear feet, ER01; 2.23 GB)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1970-2009 (Box 1; 4 folders)
  • Series 3: First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. Records, 1968-2000s (Box 1, 4, 5; 0.7 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1964-2008 (Box 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Photographic Material, 1965-2009 (Box 2-3; 1.1 linear feet, ER02; 0.785 GB)
  • Series 6: Video Recordings of Performance Art, 1994-2005 (Box 3; 0.4 linear feet, ER03-ER05; 4.96 GB)
  • Series 7: Scrapbook, 1964-1974 (Box 5; 4 folders)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Robert Delford Brown (1930-2009) was a painter, sculptor, and performance artist practicing in New York City, N.Y. Brown was a participant in many art happenings in New York during the 1960s and frequently performed in the persona of a religious leader and founder of his own religion and church, The First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc. which functioned as a community arts space.
Brown was born in Portland, Colorado. His family later moved to Long Beach, California, and he recived bachelor's and master's degrees at University of California, Los Angeles. He began his career as a Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist painter, and in 1959 moved to New York City. In 1963 he married Rhett Cone. While visiting Paris he met the artist Allan Kaprow who encouraged him to participate in a 1964 performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Originale." This performance served as the inspiration for founding The First National Church of Exquisite Panic, Inc. That same year Brown also gained media attention for his "Meat Show," an installation of raw meat which he created in a refrigerated room at the Washington Meat Market in New York City.
In 1967 Brown selected a former New York City branch library as a home for his church and hired Modernist architect Paul Rudolph to redesign the interior. He called the space "The Great Building Crack-Up" and lived there until 1997, hosting art exhibitions, happenings, and preaching his philosophy known as Pharblongence. During Brown's later career he organized many participatory art events, such as "Collaborative Action Gluings." He moved to Houston, Texas in 1997 and later moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, in preparation for a solo exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum in 2008. Robert Delford Brown died in 2009.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a minimal level and described in a finding aid in 2012 by Erin Kinhart. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.
Author
Erin Kinhart
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Donated in 2010 by Lynda Roscoe Hartigan who purchased the collection at auction.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Robert Delford Brown papers, 1964-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Robert Delford Brown papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
VHS (videotape format) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transcripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Performance artists -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oldenburg, Claes, 1929- -- Photographs Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Amaya, Mario Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/