Cecily Brown - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Phillips de Pury & Company, London, 12 October 2011, lot 15
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gagosian Gallery, Cecily Brown, 22 January - 26 February 2005, pp. 28-29 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A diptych offered as a succinct and unified whole, Park, from 2004, exemplifies Cecily Brown’s inimitable style and most celebrated artistic endeavours. Awash with a dense layering of thick impasto and teasingly tangible brush strokes, the present work’s monumental presence is sensual and electrifying. Bisecting the composition, one canvas morphs into the other with the right hand side displaying a denser and earthier palette to its lighter left-hand counterpart. Vibrant tornadoes of swirling pigment occur alongside lyrical outbursts and bright accentuations. A painting that recoils from obvious interpretation, a dizzying array of marks and gestural inscriptions result in a rebelliously enigmatic pictorial field. Quasi-figurative, Park evokes the earth, land and sky, as indicated by the work's title, while simultaneously alluding to a materiality and sexual physicality that is profoundly hypnotic. A crucial figure in the revival of painting, Brown is positioned at the forefront of current artistic and painterly developments. Her visceral oeuvre pulsates with painterly extravagances, unveiling the scale of a multifaceted human experience.

    Brown has described her chosen material as ‘sensual [because] it moves, it catches the light, it's great for skin and flesh and heft and meat.’ Brown continues, ‘I wanted to make something that you couldn't tear your eyes away from. I like the fact that because my earlier work was so known for having erotic contents, I actually need to give very little now and it's seen as erotic or hinting at erotic’ (Cecily Brown, quoted in ‘New York Minute: Cecily Brown,’ AnOther, 14 September 2012). Oil paint is indeed suggestive of bodily fluid and flesh. Brown’s deployment of oil paint, paired with marks that are gnarled, vicious, ghostly and at once elegiac and precise, results in a wonderfully promiscuous visual lexicon that has its origins in the art historical traditions of abstract painting. Sharing an affinity with the Old Masters, such as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens, Brown bolsters her compositions through a multitude of sources. Echoing the textural quality of Rubens’ nudes, the artist’s gestural compositions invoke the Flemish baroque master’s incisive and tactile depiction of flesh through the dynamic and considered application of paint. Abandoning the United Kingdom and finding refuge in New York, Brown was able to inaugurate a necessary distance from the prevailing Young British Art movement stirring in London. New York allowed Brown to pursue a more traditional means of abstraction, developing an oeuvre entrenched in the history of modernism.

    Brown’s opus thus has affinities to European Old Master figure painting, Abstract Expressionism and Fluxus paintings by collectives such as the Gutai Group. Park, therefore, recalls artists such as Kazuo Shiraga, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning as well as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon, whom Brown had a personal relationship with. Bacon’s violent distortions and frenzied brushstrokes are redolent of ecstasy and passion – a tension palpable upon Brown’s monumental canvas. Speaking of her performative process, Brown explains that she takes ‘cues from the paint, so it's this total back-and-forth between my will and the painting directing what to do next. The painting has a completely different idea than I do about what it should be. Things just naturally break down and become more abstract’ (Cecily Brown, quoted in ‘New York Minute: Cecily Brown,’ AnOther, 14 September 2012). Working off physical impulses, the artist expresses her originality through the instinctual use of lurid colours. Acknowledging the impact of photography on art, the artist masterfully builds up layers of tone to compose a dimensional and textured body of work with the ‘urge to prove that painting can still do things, that there are other ways to say things. It’s harder each century to do anything new.’ (Cecily Brown, quoted in Jackie Wullschlager, ‘Lunch with the FT: Cecily Brown,’ Financial Times, 10 June 2016, online)

    That Brown’s works reside in prestigious collections including the Tate Modern, London, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, is a clear indication of her global prominence. With an idiosyncratic elegance that is currently unparalleled, Park serves as a superfluous example of Brown’s inimitable style and creative spirit.



signed and dated ‘Cecily Brown 2004’ on the reverse of each part
oil on linen, diptych
each 195.6 x 139.7 cm (77 x 54 7/8 in.)
overall 195.6 × 279.4 cm (77 × 110 in).

Painted in 2004.

£400,000 - 600,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £849,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 6 October 2017