William Theophilus Brown a long standing member of the San Francisco Bay Area art scene passed away at age 92. He was born in Moline, Illinois in 1919 to a father who was a chief designer and engineer at the John Deere factory. He later attended Yale and studied music and art. After serving in World War II (long before the don’t ask don’t tell policy) he moved to New York and starting working under the influence of Abstract Expressionists such as Rothko and de Kooning. Finding de Kooning’s figurative style much more to his liking, he left New York in 1952 and moved to California to enroll in the graduate studio program at the University of California, Berkeley. There he joined fellow young artists of the newly formed Bay Area Figurative Movement that included David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Wayne Thiebaud, and James Weeks. He also met his longtime partner and fellow artist, Paul Wonner.
Brown spent the next 40 years exploring the figure in his paintings using a wide range of styles that can be compared to Duchamp, Matisse, and Puvis de Chauvannes. Sanluisobispo.com writes that one of Brown’s friends, attorney and artist Matt Gonzalez saw him last Saturday and said this of their meeting,
I took him 36 oysters Saturday night and we shared dinner, he had a good appetite and was in good spirits. But he couldn’t leave the apartment, and he was clear that if he couldn’t go to his studio and make art anymore, he didn’t want to live. So it was time.