Summary of Glenn Brown
Brown's work reveals a career-spanning preoccupation with the practice of appropriation. Challenging the time-honoured maxim that the best art has to be truly original, Brown looked to ways in which he might reimagine the history of art and culture - references to works from the canon sit comfortably next to more popular, more contemporary, sources - and he turned to the "regressive" art of painting to make his own mark. Not simply content with aping original works, Brown preferred to alter audience perceptions by drawing on "copies from copies" - usually as viewed second hand through a computer screen. Intrigued with the idea of surfaces, his "flat", often garish, paintings speak to the vernacular of hyperrealism. In the latter part of his career he has turned away from painting to explore the possibilities of drawing and sculpture though thematically he has remained consistent in his commitment to the practices of appropriation and intertextual commentary.
- Whereas the tendency amongst those engaged in the practice of appropriation was to deconstruct and/or to parody an existing image or set of images, Brown's work tended to be more benign. His artistic concerns lay fundamentally with painterly form and how he might call on the history of art to pursue his interest in addressing the philosophical puzzle of artistic authenticity.
- Emerging from the late-twentieth-century environment that treated painting with mistrust, Brown developed a special interest in raised impasto brushwork. He sought to fetishize expressionistic brushwork, such as that which characterized the work of the School of London, by flattening the tactile surfaces through finely applied brushwork.
- Brown's paintings were often characterized by their penchant for sluicing distortion. His preference for glossy polished surfaces and discordant color arrangements, meanwhile, saw him linked with the unnaturalistic Mannerist tradition in painting. Brown's synthetic color schemes also represented the artist's attempts to produce sculptures made of brush strokes.
- In his later works, Brown moved away from (while not abandoning) his cherished derivative style to pursue a more personal take on the theme of the grotesque and decay. These works, which adopt a looser, more expansive approach, achieve their unsettling aura through abrasive color arrangements that effectively obliterate any reference to other sources.
Biography of Glenn Brown
Glenn Brown was born in 1966 in Hexham, Northumberland, in the north of England. He has described the importance of religious iconography to his early visual development - "It's what surrounded me when I was growing up" he said - and particularly the grandiose, often violently shocking, subject matter. But as Brown's artistic interests developed into adolescence, it was the self-aware language of postmodernism that attracted him. Speaking of artists like Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Richard Prince, he picked up on the "emotional detachment, the cool gaze of the detached artist" and the fact that the audience "never quite know what [the artists are] thinking. It's about the way technology has detached us from the direct relationship with the real world" he concluded.