Cecily Brown born 1969

Artist biography

English painter. She studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1993. As a painter Brown felt remote from the ‘Young British Artist' phenomenon dominating London, so in 1994 she moved to New York. Her first work to gain recognition was the animated film Four Letter Heaven (1995), which had its premiere at Telluride Film Festival and then toured Europe and the USA. In it she introduced themes that were to become central to her work: pornography, the depiction of flesh and the sensuality of paint. Her first paintings were large-scale depictions of bodies in orgiastic, semi-abstract sprawls, for example Puce Moment (1997; see 1998 exh. cat.). Her paintings have been compared to those of Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon and Sue Williams, given her attention to bodies in space painted in an expressionistic manner. Their surfaces are often varnished, so that the viewer is held back from their intense images.

Many of her paintings are titled after movie musicals, as in the case of Father of the Bride (1999; Buffalo, NY Albright-Knox A.G.), where the paint quality becomes the focus of the subject-matter, with pastel-coloured swirls threatening to engulf the figure of a man. Brown's work has a humour and a passion that take on the legacy of the male Abstract Expressionists and overturn their epic compositions, using her interest in paint to present mocking sexual imagery in a disturbing combination of sensuality and repulsion.

The New Neurotic Realism (exh. cat., essay D. Price, London, Saatchi Gal., 1998)
Cecily Brown (exh. cat., essays R. Evren and A. H. Holmes, New York, Gagosian Gal., 2000)

10 December 2000

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