STORIES FROM PAFA

Moe Brooker '63: The Process of "Making Visible"

One of Moe Brooker’s (Cert. ’63) earliest honors had a lasting impact: winning PAFA’s Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship in 1962, which he used to travel to Europe. “I saw paintings that I only knew from photographs, and realized the importance of seeing the actual work.”

Brooker credits instructors like Roswell Weidner with helping him develop as an artist. Brooker says that his instructors at PAFA taught him how to think visually, and helped him develop his style and method. “What I learned at PAFA allowed me to go from being a realistic painter, which I did for more than 10 years, to become an abstract painter, which took seven years, and is what I do today.”

Brooker’s compositions are informed by discovery, invention, and the process of “making visible,” revealing relationships between color and form, emotion and intellect, and faith in the divine and the human condition. He is interested in overlaying fields of space, shapes and calligraphic lines, all unified by a sense of cosmic exuberance.

Listening to jazz and gospel is a part of his daily painting routine, as is returning to his work every day. “When you paint every day there is an understanding of the work, and the painting is receptive. When you step away from a painting for several days and try to return to it, the painting closes. You’ve got to work very hard to open that painting up so that it’s receptive again.”

The artist has won several lifetime achievement awards, including the Governor’s Award for Artist of the Year from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Medal of Achievement from the Philadelphia Art Alliance. In addition to being a faculty member at PAFA, Brooker was the first Bob Fox Distinguished Professor at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. In 1995, Brooker was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to do an Absolut Brooker.

Brooker’s work can be found in the permanent collections of institutions such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, Montgomery Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Musée des Beaux-arts de l’Ontario, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Brooker is represented by June Kelly Gallery in New York.

Moe Brooker, A Different Now, 2009, mixed media, 36 x 36 in.
Moe Brooker, A Different Now, 2009, mixed media, 36 x 36 in.
Moe Brooker, The Soul is the Body of the Spirit, 1989, oil on canvas, 72 1/8 x 54 1/16 in.
Moe Brooker, The Soul is the Body of the Spirit, 1989, oil on canvas, 72 1/8 x 54 1/16 in.
Moe Brooker, Ancient Futures, 2006, mixed media on wood panel, 48 x 48 in.
Moe Brooker, Ancient Futures, 2006, mixed media on wood panel, 48 x 48 in.
Moe Brooker, For Trane & Parker, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 60 in.
Moe Brooker, For Trane & Parker, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 60 in.
Moe Brooker, Evidence of Things Not Seen #2, 2011, mixed media, 15 x 15 in.
Moe Brooker, Evidence of Things Not Seen #2, 2011, mixed media, 15 x 15 in.
Moe Brooker, The Inside Story, 2006, oil and mixed media on panel, 36 x 36 in.
Moe Brooker, The Inside Story, 2006, oil and mixed media on panel, 36 x 36 in.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.