I like my paintings to have one foot in the grave, to be not quite of this world. For me they exist in a dream world, a world that is made up of all the accumulated images stored in our subconscious that coagulate and mutate when we sleep.
Mining art history and popular culture, Glenn Brown has created an artistic language that eschews categorization, fusing a wide range of time periods and pictorial conventions through reference, appropriation, and precise attention to detail. His mannerist impulses stem from a desire to breathe new life into history, using its forms as vehicles for his exploration of paint.
As an art student at Goldsmiths College, London, in the 1980s, Brown wrestled with the idea that painting had reached its end, as artists, critics, and scholars were then proclaiming. Seeking a future for painting despite its historical baggage, he made illusionistic versions of the thickly painted works of Frank Auerbach and Karel Appel, rendering their layered impasto in smoothly detailed two-dimensional brushstrokes.
Brown sources images from the internet, books, and other printed materials, distorting and manipulating them. In the 1990s he created several paintings based on science fiction novels drawing inspiration from sci-fi illustrations of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the apocalyptic scenes created by painter and illustrator John Martin. In these works Brown combined panoramic and close-up views, a technique he would later apply to depictions of the body and flesh, alluding to works by Salvador Dalí, Willem de Kooning, Chaim Soutine, and others.
As a complement to his painting practice, he creates sculptures by accumulating thick layers of oil paint over structures or found bronze casts. Brown has also produced detailed drawings in which he further explores the uncanny juxtapositions seen in his paintings. Since 2013 he has increased his engagement with drawing’s tactility, using different types of lines, shadings, and strokes in order to reinterpret the age-old tradition of copying historical subjects as a learning tool. His drawings reinforce the importance of gesture, echoing the layered lines of Old Master sketches.
Many of Brown’s titles make reference to literature, film, or individuals. Though not overtly related to the content of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures they name, the titles assert a directness that parallels Brown’s subject matter. In this way, he combines textual and visual reference as a means to update art history and perception.
Exhibitions such as the British Museum’s Historical Baggage: Glenn Brown and His Sources (2018) have made the links between Brown’s works and those from which he draws inspiration even more apparent. The show paired early portraits based on prints by Rembrandt van Rijn and Lucian Freud with Brown’s 2012 series Half-Life, a new engagement with Rembrandt’s work, revealing Brown’s intricate technical evolution over the past decade.
We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent
November 8–December 23, 2022
541 West 24th Street, New York
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2023
The Spring 2023 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Roe Ethridge’s Two Kittens with Yarn Ball (2017–22) on its cover.
Glenn Brown: From the Inside Out
Novelist Andrew Winer reports on the formal, conceptual, historical, and philosophical perspectives embedded in Glenn Brown’s latest paintings and drawings. The two talked after the opening of the artist’s recent New York exhibition Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent.
Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent
In conjunction with his exhibition Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent at Gagosian in New York, the artist sits down to discuss his new paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
Glenn Brown and Jacky Klein
Glenn Brown speaks with art historian Jacky Klein about working between mediums, his first finished painting of 2021, and the evolution of his artistic voice.
Augurs of Spring
As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Talks
Glenn Brown and Xavier Bray
Touching on everything from the politics of taste to the vibratory character of lines, Glenn Brown and Xavier Bray, the director of the Wallace Collection, discuss Brown’s exhibition, Come to Dust, in London.
With preparations underway for an exhibition in London, Glenn Brown sat down with author Hari Kunzru to discuss Brown's artmaking process, the idea of the copy, and surprising overlaps between creating visual and literary works.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.
Glenn Brown Rembrandt: After Life
In this short film, Glenn Brown demonstrates his process in creating artworks for an exhibition at Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam.
West Bund Art & Design 2023
November 9–12, 2023, booth A102
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design with an extensive group presentation. The gallery will exhibit works by Harold Ancart, Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Hao Liang, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Ed Ruscha, Alexandria Smith, Spencer Sweeney, Cameron Welch, Jonas Wood, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at West Bund Art & Design 2023. Artwork, left to right: © Zeng Fanzhi; © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany 2023; © Spencer Sweeney; © Yayoi Kusama. Photo: Alessandro Wang
FT Weekend Festival 2023
Glenn Brown and Jan Dalley
Saturday, September 2, 2023, 2–2:45pm
Kenwood House, London
As part of this year’s FT Weekend Festival in London, Glenn Brown will be in conversation with Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley on the Arts Stage to discuss his recent paintings and layered portraits, as well as the opening of the Brown Collection last year, which is home to his art collection and archive as well as four floors of exhibition space. After the talk, Brown will sign copies of his new book, We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent, in the Gagosian tent. The exhibition catalogue and other new Gagosian titles will be available for purchase with a 25% discount, and a selection of historical gallery publications will be offered for £10 each in conjunction with the Six Hundred Books display at the Gagosian Shop in Burlington Arcade.
Gagosian is partnering with the Financial Times to host the Arts Stage at the one-day festival where leading experts discuss the arts, music, literature, food, business, and technology, with recent Gagosian Quarterly films screened between sessions on the stage throughout the day.
Left: Glenn Brown. Right: Jan Dalley
Art Basel Hong Kong 2023
March 22–25, 2023
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2023 with a presentation of modern and contemporary works by international artists.
Jadé Fadojutimi, As usual, the season’s showers tend to linger, 2023 © Jadé Fadojutimi
Dix und die Gegenwart
Through February 25, 2024
Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany
This exhibition, whose title translates to Dix and the Present, explores the work of Otto Dix (1891–1969) and the artist’s enduring influence. It focuses on the ostensibly apolitical work Dix created beginning in 1933, which was less aggressive than his radical and provocative paintings of the 1920s. His Nazi-era landscapes, commissioned portraits, and Christian allegories were instead subtle and subversive forms of contemporary social critique. The exhibition aims to reveal the shifting cultural and social parameters in the reception of Dix’s art, while also demonstrating how his oeuvre continues to fascinate more than forty contemporary artists. Work by Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, John Currin, Nan Goldin, and Anselm Kiefer is included.
Glenn Brown, The Holy Bible, 2022 © Glenn Brown
Glenn Brown in
The Leisure Centre
Through August 3, 2024
Brown Collection, London
In The Leisure Centre Glenn Brown asks the question: “What is the point at which relaxation and non-functional activity allows the mind to freely wander, when we can indulge in activities or thoughts simply for the pure pleasure of doing so?” This exhibition shows work by Brown alongside artists from the Brown Collection—including Cornelis van Haarlem, Gaetano Gandolfi, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, among others—inviting the viewer to become a flaneur, traveling through time and place around the rooms.
Glenn Brown, On the Way to the Leisure Centre, 2017 © Glenn Brown
The Real Thing
February 24–June 18, 2023
Landesmuseum Hannover, Germany
This exhibition presents works from the museum’s collection, including paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, alongside paintings and drawings by Glenn Brown. Organizing the works into six curatorial groupings—animals, landscapes and trees, the nude, portraits, still lifes, and the artist—Brown juxtaposes his art with work by Jacopo Pontormo (1494–1557), Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), and Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), among others. Held across two major institutions in Hannover, Germany—the Sprengel Museum and Landesmuseum—the exhibition reimagines the museums’ permanent collections, inviting a consideration of the relationship between the art of the past and of the present.
Glenn Brown, Come All Ye Rolling Minstrels, 2009 © Glenn Brown
The Real Thing
February 24–June 18, 2023
Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany
For this exhibition, which combines the work of old, modern, and contemporary masters across two major institutions in Hannover, Germany—the Sprengel Museum and Landesmuseum—Glenn Brown reimagines the museums’ permanent collections, generating an enlightening conversation around the relationship between contemporary and historic art. The Sprengel Museum show consists of two parts: a solo presentation of formative paintings by Brown in the main room and thematic interventions within the permanent collection rooms, where Brown replaces selected works with those of his own, using categories such as color, material, realities, and faces to provide a narrative and a structure.
Installation view, Glenn Brown: The Real Thing, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany, February 24–June 18, 2023. Artwork © Glenn Brown