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
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 the process behind Brown’s artmaking, the idea of the copy, and surprising overlaps between creating visual and literary works.
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.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665). The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact email@example.com.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 6–9, 2018, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2018 with modern and contemporary artworks by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Glenn Brown, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Vera Lutter, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Takashi Murakami, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Tatiana Trouvé, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
Jeff Koons, Ode to Love, 2010–17 © Jeff Koons
West Bund Art & Design
November 8–11, 2018, booth A120
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design for the first time, with a booth of modern and contemporary works by artists including Glenn Brown, Dan Colen, John Currin, Jean Dubuffet, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Walton Ford, Ellen Gallagher, Douglas Gordon, Jennifer Guidi, Hao Liang, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Y.Z. Kami, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, and Jonas Wood.
Additionally, a large-scale painting by Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds – Indigo Blue (2010), will be installed in a special presentation at the entrance to Hall N. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.
Thomas Houseago, Untitled (Colored Skull I), 2018 © Thomas Houseago
Inspired by Rembrandt
100 jaar verzamelen door het Rembrandthuis
June 7–September 1, 2019
Museum het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam
To mark one hundred years of its collection, Museum het Rembrandthuis celebrates the famous artist with a special program in his own house. This exhibition features works from the museum’s collection by Rembrandt as well as by contemporary artists who were inspired by him. Work by Glenn Brown and Pablo Picasso is included.
Glenn Brown, Half-Life (after Rembrandt) 6, 2016 © Glenn Brown. Photo: courtesy the Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam
Bacon, Freud, and the School of London Painters
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
The Flexible Plan
The Rococo in Contemporary Art
September 23, 2018–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
Fantasy Landscapes, Portraits and Beasts
June 16–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