• Midnight Tremor: The Life and Art of Roger Brown
    Jeremy Lybarger
    University of Chicago Press, 2026
    Jeremy Lybarger

Roger Brown, “Land of Lincoln (View From Halfway Up),” 1978. Oil on canvas, 71 1/2 x 84 in. Courtesy Roger Brown Study Collection

Roger Brown (1941–1997) was one of Chicago’s most revered and iconoclastic artists. While his paintings, sculptures, and murals are well-known and widely collected, his relationship to architecture remains comparatively underappreciated. In addition to being the first full biography of Brown, Midnight Tremor is the first book that examines the critical role architecture and urbanism played throughout his career. A master satirist and mythologizer of Chicago’s built environment, Brown depicted stylized versions of the city that are playful reinventions of Mies van der Rohe, among other designers, and incisive tableaus that dramatize architecture’s narrative potential. The book considers how Brown transformed United States iconography—including New York City, Los Angeles, Disney World, suburbs, franchises, etc.—and created his own imagined structures. It also recounts his collaborations with architects Stanley Tigerman and George Veronda (with whom he had an intense romantic and creative partnership), offering a new conceptual framework for understanding Brown’s visual grammar.

Jeremy Lybarger is the features editor at the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. His long-form cultural criticism has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and many other publications. He regularly reviews new art exhibitions for Art in America and Artforum. He has received fellowships from Lambda Literary and StoryStudio Chicago. In 2021, he was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle. His work was listed in “The Best American Essays 2020.” He lives in Chicago.