Glenn Brown, British (1966 - )

 

Glenn Brown was born in Northumberland, England in 1966. He studied at Norwich School of Art, the Bath College of Higher Education, then Goldsmith's College, London. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2000. His work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions including the Serpentine Gallery, London (2004), "Glenn Brown," Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2008) and "Glenn Brown," Tate Liverpool, United Kingdom (travelled to the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin and Ludwig Múzeum Budapest (2009).

His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Centre d’Art Contemporain, France (2000); Serpentine Gallery, London (2004);[1] Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2008); Tate Liverpool, England (2009) which travelled to the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin[4] and Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest; and numerous group exhibitions including The Saatchi Gallery (1995); Centre Georges Pompidou (2002); Venice Biennale, Italian Pavillion, (2003); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2010), and Kunsthalle, Vienna (2011). His work is represented by Gagosian Gallery in New York and London, Patrick Painter Gallery in Los Angeles and Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin.
He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2000. There was some controversy over his exhibition at Tate Britain for the Turner Prize, as one of the paintings was closely based on the science-fiction illustration "Double Star" produced in 1973 by the artist Tony Roberts.In 2009, Brown claimed that "to make something up from scratch is nonsensical. Images are a language. It‘s impossible to make a painting that is not borrowed — even the images in your dreams refer to reality."

Brown appropriates images by living, working artists, such as Frank Auerbach and Georg Baselitz, as well as paintings by established historical artists, such as Guido Reni, Diego Velázquez, Anthony Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Eugène Delacroix, John Martin, Gustave Courbet, Adolph Menzel, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Chaim Soutine and Salvador Dalí. The references to these artists are not direct quotations, but alterations and combinations of several works by different artists.[11] As art critic Michael Bracewell states, Brown is "less concerned with the art-historical status of those works he appropriates than with their ability to serve his purpose – namely his epic exploration of paint and painting." In most cases, the artist uses reproductions printed in exhibition catalogues, found on the internet or ordered through print-on-demand companies. By scanning and changing the image with programmes like Photoshop, Brown playfully alters the image to his specific needs. He distorts, stretches, pulls, turns the image upside down and changes the colour, usually based on other found images, as well as the background setting. Describing his working practice in an interview, Brown stated: "I‘m rather like a Dr Frankenstein, constructing paintings out of the residue or dead parts of other artist‘s work. I hope to create a sense of strangeness by bringing together examples of the way the best historic and modern-day artists have depicted their personal sense of the world. I see their worlds from multiple or schizophrenic perspectives, through all their eyes. Their sources of inspiration suggest things I would never normally see – rocks floating in far-off galaxies, for example, or a bowl of flowers in an 18th-century room, or a child in a fancy-dress costume. It‘s those fictions that I take as subject matter. The scenes may have been relatively normal to Rembrandt or Fragonard but because of the passage of time and the difference in culture, to me they are fantastical."


Once the composition is found, the paint is applied in the artist‘s very specific process of painting. Brown's paintings, which are uniformly smooth in surface, typically offer a trompe l'oeil illusion of turbulent, painterly application. In fact, many viewers of his work have expressed the sensation of wanting to "lick" and "touch" the paintings. Brown uses thin brushes with which he produces particularly elongated curls and twists. The resulting flatness of the image alludes to the origin of the chosen image in its photographic or digital form. As the artist Michael Stubbs makes clear: "It is important to point out once again that it is not sufficient to argue that Brown‘s computer-based preparation method prior to painting is the sole reason for his relation with the digital. The computer increases and develops his choices of found imagery, but it is only a means, not the end. […]. On the contrary, his works are markers for the future of painting because they are both surface effect and material methodology, not despite the screen, but because of it. His object/paintings are in a flux of permanent conundrum, they anticipate and reach back into history while simultaneously repositioning history as future; as hypersurface."


A lot of his titles refer to titles of albums, film titles, science fiction literature, or a specific dedication to a person. The titles are not obviously connected to the paintings themselves and are not meant to be descriptive of the artwork. Instead they are intended to complement it. Brown: "That‘s it – the titles are often trying to be embarrassingly direct, and vulgar in their directness. I don‘t think that the painting is less direct, but I don‘t want the paintings to be illustrative."

The artist lives and works in London.

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