Stanley Brouwn

Biography of Stanley Brouwn

The enigmatic artist Stanley Brouwn is a puzzling figure even in the strange world of conceptual art. The apparently minimal gestures of his work reveal a pinpoint accuracy and an obsessive process of documentation of the world we inhabit. Based on the measuring systems of distances, spaces, and routes, Brouwn's work is deeply rooted in the everyday and reveals a subtle awareness of movement.


Born in Surinam in 1935, Stanley Brouwn moved to Holland in 1957, a period still heavily under the influence of the Fluxus movement. The subjective and to a certain extent arbitrary nature of measurements intrigued Brouwn. His famous early works, for instance, required audience participation. The artist would get passers-by to draw directions to a particular point and then stamp the drawings "this way brouwn". From the 1970s onwards Brouwn recorded his own footsteps in various cities on index cards which were then placed in metal filing cabinets. What was radical about his work was the way he objectified personal experience—unlike many artists Brouwn was not only able to detach himself from the work, but at the same time make his absence a distinguishing feature.


Stanley Brouwn was a major participant of documenta 5 in 1972 and was also involved in documenta 11 in 2002. An immensely private artist, Brouwn would refuse to ever give interviews about his work or reveal any biographical data for exhibitions. Indeed, there are very few photographs of the artist in existence. This privacy has helped Brouwn achieve an almost mythical status in the art world. His reputation continues to expand and find a new and engaged audience around the world. In 2005 Brouwn had a major exhibition at the MACBA in Spain that travelled from the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven. Brouwn is critically acclaimed throughout the world and exhibits extensively. His artist's book ell / ells - step / steps, 1998 is a unique opportunity to possess a work from this most enigmatic of artists. 

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