Juncosa Enrique (ed.), Cecily Brown, exh. cat., Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (13 July – 12 September 2004), Madrid, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, 2004→
Cotter Suzanne & Swain Miria (eds.), Cecily Brown : paintings, exh. cat., Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (28 June – 28 August 2005), Oxford, Modern Art Oxford, 2005→
Ashton Dore, Cecily Brown, New York, Rizzoli, 2008
Cecily Brown, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, 14 November 2002 – 2 March 2003→
Cecily Brown: based on a true story, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, 3 September – 7 November 2010 ; of contemporary art, The Hague, 20 November 2010 – 27 February 2011→
Cecily Brown, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, 17 October – 1 February 2015
Cecily Brown is the daughter of art critic David Sylvester. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1993, and has worked in New York since 1994. Along with Jenny Saville, she is one of the most active figures in the revival of painting since the late 1990s. In 1997-1998, she garnered attention with a series of explicitly erotic paintings (among them Guys and Dolls). The subject matter of these paintings is harsh and rough, as is the paint applied in vigorous strokes onto the canvas. The brushwork is both thick and liquid, making it seem as if the scene depicted were engulfed in a lava flow, within which objects become difficult to discern. Sexual intercourse, which she sometimes shows to a nearly pornographic degree, remains her subject of choice. She approaches it with an expressionist rhetoric: gesturality, apparent spontaneity, deformation of figures caught in a textured matter that subjugates and distorts them. One is reminded of the series of Women that Willem de Kooning painted in the 1950s, as well as of works by Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach. However, unlike them, C. Brown uses soft colours, particularly pinks and turquoise blue, which have the effect of shifting her work toward kitsch. The titles readily add a touch of cynical humour, as in Confessions of a Window Cleaner (2000).
While sexual intercourse is sometimes explicitly mentioned (Sweetie, 2001), the viewer is also at times faced with a welter of organic matter that conveys both the idea of Eros and of Thanatos (Suddenly Last Summer, 1999). The iconography of some of her works is also rooted in art history (Bacchanal, 2001). While likely to inspire disgust, her exuberant and raw form of painting, full of overlaps and drippings, gained instant success. After being presented at the Deitch Projects Gallery (New York, 1997), C. Brown’s work was shown, starting in 2000, at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, where has since been regularly exhibited. She has also had solo shows at several institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2006.
Cecily Brown, Keychains and Snowstorms, 2004, oil on linen, 261.62 x 421.64 cm, 103 x 166 in, Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, © Cecily Brown
Cecily Brown, Untitled (Blood Thicker Than Mud), 2012, oil on linen, 276.86 x 434.34 cm, 109 x 171 in, Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, © Cecily Brown
Cecily Brown, Boy with a Cat, 2015, oil, pastel on linen, 109.2 x 165.1 cm, Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, © Cecily Brown
Cecily Brown, Untitled (Paradise), 2015, gouache, watercolour on paper, Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, © Cecily Brown
Cecily Brown, Untitled (Shipwreck), 2016, unknown dimensions, Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, © Cecily Brown