Carl Brown was a Louisville, Kentucky, native who began his studies at the Louisville Art Center in 1940. World War II interrupted his training, and he served in the Army in the Pacific Theater. Returning to Louisville, he worked as a store window decorator and continued his instruction at the Art Center with Fayette Barnum, who was the director, Mary Spencer Nay, Constance Clark Willis and Romuald Kraus. He later studied there with Worden Day and came face to face with Cubism.
Miss Barnum had a long relationship with the artist colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts, sending many of her students there for further work. She did the same with Brown, introducing him to Peter Hunt, known as an “American furniture folk artist,” and Brown worked in the Hunt studio decorating furniture with European peasant motifs.
In 1954 Brown returned to Louisville after four years of travel that took him to Paris, where he studied with Andre Lhote, and to many Mediterranean countries as well as North Africa. He showed 80 watercolors at Mary Alice Hadley’s Little Gallery on Story Avenue, a popular show by newspaper accounts. Brown also had a painting in the Aetna Collection, works acquired through purchase prizes at the Art Center’s annual exhibition of Kentucky and Southern Indiana artists, and shown in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1955. That same year Brown had a one-man show at the Weyhe Gallery on Lexington Avenue in New York City. According to an Art News notice, Brown showed paintings on wood, wood gathered on Moroccan beaches.
In the 1960s Brown divided his time between Palm Beach, Florida, and Long Island, New York. Long Island was an important art colony, and Brown had a more than nodding acquaintance with such artists as Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning. Brown showed at the Ashawagh and Guild halls in East Hampton. He eventually settled in West Palm Beach, Florida, and in 2013 the community honored him with a major exhibition, Carl Brown: Travels After the War. A catalog by curator Elizabeth Dowdle was published.
Brown also exhibited at the Worth Avenue Gallery and The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.