Glenn Brown - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 10, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Haunch of Venison, London
    Gagosian Gallery, London
    Private collection, Dallas

  • Exhibited

    London, Haunch of Venison, Must I Paint You a Picture?, December 8, 2004 - January 20, 2005

  • Catalogue Essay

    I like my paintings to have one foot in the grave, as it were, and to be not quite of this world. I would like them to exist in a dream world, which I think of as being the place that they occupy, a world that is made up of the accumulation of images that we have stored in our subconscious, and that coagulate and mutate as we sleep.


    (Glenn Brown, quoted in “Concerning the Art of Glenn Brown,” M. Bracewell, Glenn Brown, New York, Gagosian Gallery, 2007, p. 60).

    In the present lot, Dead Relatives, 1995, thick, glutinous, and morbid oils are wiped onto the canvas, as though caught in a single moment of liquefaction. From the pale pink in the lower left, to the crimson red in the central quadrant, and pitch black in the upper register, the pigments bathe the canvas in their luscious splendor. The occupants of this painting are the stuff of dreams; Glenn Brown creates a parallel reality, one deep below in a vertiginous underworld, somewhere within the recesses of human psychology. The anthropomorphic being of the present lot pulls himself from the grave below, fighting the sinewy paints which suck him back into the earth and threaten to bury him once again with their corpulent substance and sappy density. The visual luxuriance of Brown’s painting draws the viewer deeper and deeper into an intimate and gothic exploration of paint and pigment.

    The painting’s surface creates a dizzying affect, as the pigments swirl in strong currents of colors, creating the feeling of entering a magnetic field where the laws of physics are abandoned. Upon closer inspection, however, the surface of the painting is smooth and flat, destroying the anticipation of a tactile, dense, and heavily worked facade. Instead of the expected variegated surface, one is met with a cool and pristine flatness. The deceptive surface further heightens the paintings dramatic performance. It is in this very performance that Brown sweeps up his viewers and pulls them into the illusion of the world he has created. While the title suggests lifelessness, Brown’s bravura of vision reanimates the canvas, breathing life and undeniable sentience into the surface. The present lot fuses vulgarity and refinement, forcefulness and fragility, ugliness and beauty. The impact of Brown’s love affair with paint itself creates a symbolic language of mortality, both in this world and others.


Dead Relatives

oil on canvas, mounted on board
22 3/4 x 18 3/4 in. (57.8 x 47.6 cm)
Signed and dated "Glenn Brown 1995" on the reverse of the wood panel.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 May 2012
New York