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.
Come to Dust
January 24–March 17, 2018
Grosvenor Hill, London
May 8–June 21, 2014
West 21st Street, New York
Etchings and Sculpture
June 9–July 23, 2011
October 15–November 27, 2009
Britannia Street, London
May 3–June 9, 2007
West 24th Street, New York
February 24–April 10, 2004
980 Madison Avenue, New York
From the Quarterly
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.
Glenn Brown Rembrandt: After Life
In this short film, Glenn Brown demonstrates his process in creating the works for an exhibition at the Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
April 28–29, 2018, booth B8
Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Artmonte-Carlo 2018, presenting a selection of works by artists including Richard Artschwager, Davide Balula, Glenn Brown, Michael Craig-Martin, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Peter Lindbergh, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Sterling Ruby, and Taryn Simon. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artmontecarlo.ch.
Sterling Ruby, Heart (6634), 2018 © Sterling Ruby Studio. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 5pm
Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London
As part of Gagosian Quarterly Talks, Xavier Bray, director of the Wallace Collection, will speak with Glenn Brown on the occasion of his exhibition, Come to Dust. To attend this free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited and will be granted on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Installation view, Glenn Brown: Come to Dust, Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London, January 24–March 17, 2018 © Glenn Brown
The Flexible Plan
The Rococo in Contemporary Art
Through January 6, 2019
Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany
The Flexible Plan: The Rococo in Contemporary Art examines the survival of European grandeur in contemporary art. The exhibition presents a varied panorama of works against the backdrop of the Rococo castle that houses the museum. Work by Glenn Brown and Katharina Grosse is included.
Glenn Brown, The Life Hereafter, 2011, Scharpff Collection © Glenn Brown
Glenn Brown in
Rembrandt | Britain’s Discovery of the Master
Through October 14, 2018
Scottish National Gallery
This exhibition will reveal how the taste for Rembrandt’s work in Britain evolved over the past four hundred years. Since around 1630, it grew into a mania that gripped collectors and art lovers across the country, reaching a fever pitch in the late eighteenth century. The exhibition will also reveal the profound impact of Rembrandt’s art on the British imagination, by exploring the wide range of native artists whose work has been inspired by the Dutch master, over four centuries, right up to the present day. Work by Glenn Brown will be included.
Glenn Brown, Unknown Pleasures, 2016 © 2018 Glenn Brown. Photo: Mike Bruce
Fantasy Landscapes, Portraits and Beasts
Through October 21, 2018
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, England
In 2017, the Laing Art Gallery acquired a work by Glenn Brown through the Contemporary Arts Society’s Great Works program; this exhibition continues to build on the institution’s relationship with the artist. The show features new works by Brown, in the context of his own rehang of the Laing’s painting collection and is curated by the artist, together with Julie Milne, chief curator.
Glenn Brown, On the Way to the Leisure Centre, 2017 © 2018 Glenn Brown. Photo: Mike Bruce
Bacon, Freud, and the School of London
October 9, 2018–January 13, 2019
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
In the decades following World War II, Bacon, Freud, and their British contemporaries engaged with subjects that felt immediate and intensely personal. This exhibition retraces their artistic developments via works, including paintings and drawings, spanning seven decades. Despite the sheer diversity of approaches and techniques that embodied their practices, the members of this group were constantly renewing their individual appraisals of the artist’s personal position in the world, focusing on individuals, locations, and narratives close and dear to them. The exhibition was initially produced under the title Bacon, Freud, and the London Painters by ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark. Work by Michael Andrews, Francis Bacon, Glenn Brown, Alberto Giacometti, and Jenny Saville is included.
Michael Andrews, A Man Who Suddenly Fell Over, 1952, Tate © The Estate of Michael Andrews