James Brooks (American, 1906–1992) was a renowned Abstract Expressionist painter. He was considered to be among the first generation of American Abstract Expressionists who employed staining as a painting technique. Born in St. Louis, MO, Brooks lived in a number of cities and states before his family finally settled in Dallas, TX. In 1922, he graduated from Oak Cliff High School, and he later studied art at the Southern Methodist University. He also attended the Dallas Art Institute and took private art lessons from Martha Simkins.

Brooks moved to New York in 1926, where he worked as a commercial artist while attending night classes at the Art Students League under Boardman Robinson. By 1930, Brooks was exhibiting works executed in a Social Realist style in New York galleries and exhibitions. One of his 1950s famous murals titled Flight was painted 235 feet along the Marine Air Terminal's rotunda at La Guardia Airport in New York. The mural, which was considered to be a symbol of left-wing ideas, was taken down, but restored in 1980 after protests by artists, historians, and curators.

After serving in the United States Army between 1942 and 1945, Brooks returned to New York, NY, and developed a new style of abstract painting based on the synthetic Cubist ideas of Pablo Picasso. He worked on a series of stained canvases in the Abstract Expressionist style, which were featured at the Peridot Gallery in New York, NY. Brooks’s work was featured in group exhibitions, such as the 1951 Ninth Street Exhibition, and exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Some of his solo exhibitions include the James Brooks: Six Decades exhibition at the Joan T. Washburn Gallery in New York, NY, in 2002, and In Confluence at the Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY, in 2009. Brooks was also remembered as a great art teacher at the University of Philadelphia, PA, and at Columbia University in New York. He died of Alzheimer's disease in his Long Island home in 1992.

Timeline

1906
Born in St. Louis, Missouri
1923–1925
Studied at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
1926
Moved to New York City and attended night classes at Art Students League
1936–1942
WPA Project with Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston
1947
Instructor of drawing at Columbia University, New York, NY
1947
Married painter Charlotte Park
1992
Died in East Hampton, NY

Exhibitions

2011
Abstract Expressionism: Reloading the Canon, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
2011
After Paradise, Jason McCoy Inc., New York, NY, curated by Stephanie Buhmann
2010
James Brooks: Paintings and Works on Paper from the 1940s, Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
2009
James Brooks: Geometry and Gesture: Selected Works from 1968 – 1979, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2009
2009 In Confluence: James Brooks and Giorgio Cavallon, Jason McCoy Gallery
2009
The Gallery Selection, American Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich, Germany
2009
Collect with us, Armand Bartos Fine Art, New York, NY
2009
Abstract Expressionism: Further Evidence, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
2008
Peggy Guggenheim e la Nuova Pittura Americana, Arca, Chiesa di San Marco, Vercelli,
2008
Black & White, American Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich, Germany
2008
Fall Selections, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2008
Mostly Black and White, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2008
East End Artists, Past and Present , Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA
2008
James Brooks: A Selection from the Estate from 1952-1980, American Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich, Germany (solo)
2008
James Brooks: Black and White + Color, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2008
James Brooks. Works from the 7 - Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Black and White + Color - Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City, NY (solo)
2007
September Selections, Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2007
Charles Pollock: The Chapala Series 1955-1956, Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY
2006
Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, St. Louis, MO (solo)
2006
James Brooks: Variations on a Theme, Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
2006
James Brooks at the Dallas Museum of Art - A Celebration - Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
James Brooks - Variations on a Theme - Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
2005
Omaggio a James Brooks - Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (solo)
2005
James Brooks: A Survey of Small Paintings, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2005
Artists and Nature in Eastern Long Island: 1940s to Today, Spanierman Gallery
2005
The Irascibles: on paper, CDS Gallery, November 4 - January 21, New York, NY
2005
Another View: New York School, Opalka Gallery, Albany, NY
2005
Accrochage, Kouros Gallery, November 1 - December 30, New York, NY
2004
Black & White, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY
2004
James Brooks Selected Works 1948-1986 Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2003
Selected Paintings 1960-85, Artemis Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2002
James Brooks: Six Decades, Joan T. Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2001
James Brooks: In Retrospect , Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY (solo)
1993
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY
1981
Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
1976
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
1969
Berenson Gallery, Miami, FL
1969
Museum of Modern Art, NY, NY
1968
Martha Jackson Gallery, NY, NY
1967
Metropolitan Museum of American Art, NY, NY
1966
Philadelphia Art Alliance
1965
Kootz Gallery, NY, NY
1963
Whitney Museum of Art, NY, NY
1961
Kootz Gallery New York
1950
Peridot Gallery, New York, NY (first solo show)