Stanley Brouwn, the pioneering Conceptual artist who in 1960 began approaching strangers on the street and asking them to draw directions to various locations on papers that he stamped with the words “THIS WAY BROUWN,” died on Thursday, May 18, in Amsterdam. His death was confirmed by Konrad Fischer Galerie, which represented him in Düsseldorf and Berlin, and reported by de Volkstrant. He was 81.
Brouwn was born in 1935 in Suriname and moved to Amsterdam in 1957. In 1960, he declared all of the shoe stores in the capital of the Netherlands as his art. Since, for most of his career, he declined to give interviews, be photographed, or allow his work to be reproduced, information about his life is scarce. Most catalogues for shows that include his art include statements like, “At the request of the artist, no bibliographical information is provided here.”
However, some facts have been definitively established: Brouwn taught at the Kunstakademie Hamburg for many years, and had a major retrospective in 2005 at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He was included in numerous major exhibitions, including Documenta 5, 6, 7, and 11.
In issue 11 of the Bulletin put out by the Amsterdam gallery Art & Project, in 1969, Brouwn wrote: “Walk during a few moments very consciously in a certain direction; simultaneously an infinite number of living creatures in the universe are moving in an infinite number of directions.”
A full obituary will follow.