Madrepora (Alluvial), 2017 continues Brown’s ongoing investigation of crowds, drawing upon an eccentric range of references from the drama and dynamism of Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa to the contemporary news images of the “burkini ban” being enforced on the beaches of Nice. The title ‘Madrepora’ is taken from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, in which he references the coral to describe a troupe of young women on the beach, as they undulate in and out of his visual focus. The experience of looking at the work is something akin to what W.H. Auden exhorts in his poem, Ischia, from which the painting gets the second part of its name. Looking at Brown's work requires a restless and inquisitive gaze, one willing to wander the marine space. Veils of blue and green guide the eye through the painting, revealing figures who seem to appear as if by chance only to dissolve back into shrouds of aqueous colour. One can catch only glimpses of human forms pulling the viewer deeper into the pictorial space only to be pushed back to the surface, as if by some tidal force. A Mediterranean light pervades the work, conjuring the sun-drenched beaches of Ischia and scenes of bathers, oceanic blues competing with fleshy peach tones.


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About Cecily Brown

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Cecily Brown is, and has been throughout her career, one of the most engaged and distinctive painters of our time. To this day, her preoccupation remains the Body - in all its various guises and narratives: as subject matter, as form, as boundary, but also as quintessence, as core structure, and even as a total Corpus. Brown's paintings are immersive. She keeps reminding us how great it is to look at art unhurriedly: the miraculous pleasure of contemplation, examination - not in a complacent, or comforting way, but as a tool for existential inquiry. A painting, for her, ought to reveal itself slowly, almost 'continuously'. Born in London in 1969, Cecily Brown received her BA in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Art, London, in 1993. Her work is included in renowned public collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Tate Gallery, London. One-person exhibitions include "Directions: Cecily Brown," Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2002); MACRO, Rome (2003); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2004); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (2005); Kunsthalle Mannheim (2005-06); Des Moines Art Centre, Iowa (2006); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006-07); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009); "Based on a True Story," Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2010) that traveled to GEM, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hague; Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna a Contemporanea, Turin (2014); and "Rehearsal," The Drawing Centre, New York (2016) which will travel to Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, in January 2018. Her current exhibition of Shipwreck drawings is on at the Whitworth, Manchester. Brown lives and works in New York.

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The Help Refugees Choose Love winter auction is launched in partnership with HUMAN FLOW, the acclaimed new documentary from artist Ai Weiwei documenting the global refugee crisis, and The Cob Gallery.

Madrepora (Alluvial), 2017
Gouache, watercolour, and pastel on paper
101.6 x 152.4 cm (40 x 60 in)
Signed on verso

Online bidding for this work ended on December 21, 2017 at 2:00pm ET.

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Cecily Brown
Madrepora (Alluvial)
  • Dimensions
    101.6 x 152.4 cm (40 x 60 in)