Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
James Edward Brewton (1930-1967) was an American painter and printmaker. He was born in Toledo, Ohio to Bryant Young Brewton and Helen Ruth Nelson and attended Scott High School. As a young man he studied drawing at the Toledo Museum of Art and painting with John Charvet. Brewton enlisted in the Marines Corps and served in the Korean War, 1951-1954, rising to the rank of Sergeant, and earned the Korean Service Medal, the United States Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
With funding from the G.I. Bill, Brewton studied art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University from 1954 to 1955, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1955 to 1958. His teachers at PAFA were Franklin Watkins and Hobson Pittman. While working a part-time job in Philadelphia at The Print Club, Brewton was exposed to the work of Danish painter Asger Jorn, who became a primary influence on Brewton's style. Other influences on his work were the other members of the European avant-garde art group CoBrA, as well as the surrealist writer André Breton and the symbolist writer Alfred Jarry and his imaginary metaphysical philosophy of "pataphysics."
Brewton's early works are said to be expressionist and his later works incorporate graffiti (which he called "anonymous and therefore for all mankind") and the influences of "pataphysics" (calling his works "Graffiti Pataphysic"). He painted portraits throughout his life and created prints employing drawing, painting, collage, ink-stamp, and photographic techniques. He also worked in three-dimensions, creating conceptual pieces and installations which brought together objects, graphics and print.
Brewton and his partner Barbara Murray Holland lived in Denmark for much of 1962. Together they had a daughter, Emily Brewton Schilling, who was born in Denmark that year. Brewton and Murray divorced in 1964. He married Anne Marie ("Nanie") Lafitte in February 1967. He committed suicide just three months later, dying from a gunshot wound to his head.
Brewton's works earned him several awards, including the Special Travel Award, PAFA, 1958; 154th Annual Philadelphia Water Color Prize, PAFA, 1958 (for his watercolor "The Deposition"); 155th Annual J. Henry Scheidt Memorial Prize, PAFA, 1959 (for his painting "The Suicide of Judas"); and the 45th Annual Delaware Show Water Color Prize (also for "The Suicide of Judas") and 46th Annual Delaware Show Oil and Sculpture Honorable Mention (for his painting "Une Saison En Enfer"), Delaware Art Centre, 1959. Following his death, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts established the Brewton Scholarship in his name.
His works have been exhibited at the Makler Gallery in 1964; Kenmore Galleries in 1965 and 1971; Galerie AP, Copenhagen in 1965; Socrates Perakis Gallery in 1967; Peale House of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1968; and the Woodmere Art Museum in 2012.
Today, Brewton's works may be found in collections at Friends' Central School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Hood Museum of Art (Dartmouth College), and in private hands. The James E. Brewton Foundation was formed in 2008 by Brewton's daughter Emily Brewton Schilling and friends in order to find and save his artwork and to collaborate with educational and cultural institutions.
The collection is arranged in four series: I. Personal material; II. Artworks; III. Books and audiovisual materials; IV. Artifacts and memorabilia. The personal material includes correspondence and biographical information on James Brewton and his immediate family, including vital records such as birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce documents. Also included are his military records from the United State Marine Corps, resumes, the contents of his wallet at the time of his death, and posthumous remarks by his Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts mentor, Hobson Pittman. Materials from several exhibitions of his works, mounted both during his lifetime and posthumously, include flyers, program booklets, price lists, loan forms, and posters. Also there are press clippings and reviews for these shows and about Brewton generally. Notebooks and ledgers owned by Brewson, only minimally used, may also be found in this series.
The second series of artworks includes a small number of Brewton's original work in the form of sketches, finger paintings, prints, and fragments which may have been used in his collage work. His major works are represented by reproductions in photographs, negatives, slides, and transparencies. These are identified by title when known, or by description from the James E. Brewton Foundation (such as "Missing Painting #3"), or by the designation "unidentified." There are also reproductions of others' works which may have influenced him.
The third series includes books and audiovisual materials which may have inspired him in his work, as well as two 16mm films and their transfers to DVD about Brewton.
The final series is artifacts and memorabilia: among the items included are the American flag from his veteran's funeral, his slide rule, shoe trees, and metal flask, as well as a roll of masking tape inscribed "Jim Brewton is a Beatnik!" and "Jim Brewton is a Cultured Beatnik."
Gift, Emily Brewton Schilling, 2014.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- John Anderies
- Finding Aid Date
- 26 August 2015
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use, however, use of audiovisual and computer media in Series III. Books and audiovisual and computer materials/B. Audiovisual and computer media (originals restricted from access) is restricted. The computer files originally stored on the DVDs in Box 3, Folder 20 have been processed and are available for research use (see items described as "Digital Content (Reading Room Access Only)" along the right-hand side in the Collection Inventory) and are described in Series III. Books and audiovisual and computer materials/C. Computer files. These computer files are reading-room access only on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.
Use of audiovisual media in Series III. Books and audiovisual and computer materials/B. Audiovisual and computer media (originals restricted from access) are also restricted. If the original does not already have a copy, it may be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items will depend on the nature of the material and is subject to review for condition. Please contact the Kislak Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.