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Plastic surgeon Gregory Brown is a devout pursuer of beauty, be it in the operating room or the auction room. Brown, who founded RéVive skin care, is an avid art collector who exhibits his finds in his homes in New York City and Louisville, Ky. Gazing at Helio Oiticica’s “Mailerlyn,” said to be the inspiration for Andy Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait, Brown muses, “I don’t think I have any art that people would call ugly,” noting he prefers post-war, color field, minimalist works. “I like clean, uncluttered precision,” he says, “I guess maybe because I’m a surgeon.”
Brown’s interest in art started in 1986, during a trip to Venice in which he read a biography of legendary collector and socialite Peggy Guggenheim. He learned that Guggenheim was quite well-off but not fantastically wealthy, and was able to create an incredible art collection with what she had. “I thought, I’m not that wealthy,” says Brown. “You always think of a major collector as a hedge fund guy or something like that,” he continues. “I realized anybody with passion and knowledge could be a collector.” This epiphany led the self-taught collector to auctions and galleries where he purchased works within his means.
This story first appeared in the November 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Brown’s collection includes both established and emerging artists; his favorite galleries include Cheim & Read, Ameringer, Andrea Rosen and the Armory Show. His passion has also found a professional outlet, most notably RéVive’s Artbox, an annual limited-edition keepsake that includes the brand’s star products nestled inside a box with cover art handpicked by Brown. This year, which marks the project’s 10th anniversary, Brown chose three prints by contemporary artist Pat Stier. “It’s a creative outlet for me,” he says. “To me, RéVive in and of itself is art because of the creativity. It’s visual. It’s about taking medicine and applying it in a safe and regulatory way to beauty.”
According to Brown, the art in plastic surgery lies in the ability to know what you can and can’t achieve. Whether seeing the result of a great facelift or purchasing a new work of art, beauty is what makes the doctor happy. “It’s aesthetically pleasing,” he says. “And I think knowing that the owner of your beauty products is drawn to art is sort of reassuring.”