Cecily Brown

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Cecily Brown is an active and acclaimed painter born in London in 1969. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Fine Arts from Slade School of Fine Art in 1993. She has lived and worked in New York City since 1995 and has been exhibited in institutions across the United States and Europe such as Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tate Gallery, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Her work can be described as tension filled scenes that drift over the border of figuration and abstraction, which often results in her categorization as a “Neo-Expressionist” or a feminist Abstract Expressionism.
Brown uses the full human figure in her work, and often includes multiple figures whose forms have no harsh brush stroke to
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Similarly to Brown’s work, de Kooning’s subjects were often nude females that dance the border between a humanoid shape and pure abstraction.
The resemblance in Brown's work to de Kooning and other Abstract Expressionists (such as the long strokes of Pollock) is what often creates her association with the movement. In his essay, “In Defense of Abstract Expressionism,” renowned art historian TJ Clark describes the movement as:
In Abstract Expressionism - a certain construction of the world we call “individuality” is revealed in its true, that is to say, contingent, vulgarity. And so is painting; or rather, so are paintings like Hofmann’s “The Garden” and Adolph Gottlieb’s “Black, Blue Red” - done as they were under the sign or spell of such a construction, by “individuals” believing utterly (innocently, idiotically) in its power.
In relation to Brown’s work, we can see this individual expression emerging through her paintings by using reoccuring nude subjects that can be considered
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[...] This prejudice worked strongly against inclusion in the Abstract Expressionist pantheon of ethnic as well as sexual minorities, because the interests of such artists did not generally lend themselves to creating works that would qualify as "pure."
Cecily Brown’s use of abstraction, nudity, male and female bodily manipulation, and erroticism come together to challenge subjects and movements that are historically male dominated. The three main elements of Cecily Brown’s work (figuration, tension, and abstraction) contain references to past artistic personas and movements. She is influenced by the dark expressiveness of Francisco Goya’s figures, Edgar Degas's creation of nearly sadistic scenes with strong colors, and the fluid vulgarity of Abstract Expressionism. The successful mixture of these elements has branded Brown as a “Neo-Expressionist” and as a result she has met much success in establishing a painting career in New York
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