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Artists / Charles Bragg

Charles Bragg

1931-2017

Charles Bragg was born in St. Louis, Missouri to two Vaudeville performing parents that he traveled with throughout his childhood. He attended New York’s High School of Music and Art in Harlem and ran away with his sweetheart when he turned 18.

He studied at the Art Students League in New York and later resided in Los Angeles. Before he decided to truly pursue painting, Bragg was a cab driver, a truck driver, a stand-up comedian, and a factory worker. When he arrived in California, he began painting for the wealthy and even gave lessons. It was during this time that he began to develop satirical feelings for the upper-class he was painting.

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The turning point in Bragg’s career came in the early 1960s when he decided to exhibit some of his work that was far from the mainstream. Biting caricatures reminiscent of Daumier called attention to a cast of characters who had “lost their souls while acting out depravities through tragicomic burlesques of morality and ethics.” He poked fun at the military, the clergy, and professions—and his shows sold out.

During the 1970s Bragg “mellowed,” turning from occupational diatribes to universal weaknesses and temptations of the flesh. He continued to poke fun at the mentality of his subjects in his paintings, drawings, etchings, and lithographs. His work is found in the collections of at least 20 international museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. PBS made a documentary about him called “Charles Bragg — One of a Kind.” He published a book on his work, “Charles Bragg: The Works! A Retrospective.” He won numerous awards, including the Gold Medal for the National Society of Illustrators as well as the Award of Merit from the Art Directors Guild of New York.

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