Brooks was also a muralist, and winner of the Logan Medal of the Arts. Between 1923 and 1925 Brooks studied at the Southern Methodist Univesity in Dallas, Texas. In 1926 he moved to New York and between 1927 and 1930 he attended the Arts Student League. Brooks became a friend of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on Eastern Long Island. In 1947 he married artist Charlotte Park.
Considered a first generation abstract expressionist painter, Brooks was amongst the first abstract expressionists to use staining as an important technique. According to Carter Ratcliff: "His concern has always been to create painterly accidents of the kind that allow buried personal meanings to take on visibility."
In his paintings from the late 1940s Brooks began to dilute his oil paint in order to stain the mostly raw canvas. These works often combined calligraphy and abstract shapes. Brooks had his first one-man exhibition of his abstract expressionist paintings in 1949 at the Peridot Gallery in New York. He died in 1992 in East Hampton, New York.
Among the public collections holding work by James Brooks are: The Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Dallas Museum of Art, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Sheldon Art Gallery (Lincoln, Nebraska), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), the Tate Gallery (London) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
|1940 Bad Intentions|
|1947 Sailor's Horn Pipe|
|1948 Maine Caper|