Cecily Brown The Girl Who Had Everything 1999

“I very much believe in peripheral vision and that you’re working on them without paying close attention. So a huge part of it is just time and putting things away and bringing them back and seeing… I trust the fresh eyes, but if you haven’t looked at something for a couple of weeks—and you weren’t sure—then when you flip it back ‘round you usually know straight away. When you’ve just worked on something, your relationship to it is too hot, overheated, and emotional, and neurotic, and you so want it to work. And sometimes you really want something to be done, just because maybe it’s gone on so long, and maybe the paint’s getting more built up than you want it.” Cecily Brown in conversation with Jason Rosenfeld, December 13, 2017.

It’s funny how so many artists still regard the term Mannerism as a pejorative term when many of the great artists through our history were in fact Mannerists. One of my favorite artists is Tintoretto who declared that his style would be made of the drawing of Michelangelo and the color of Titian. And his Mannerism created new twisted spatial experiences and an even stranger warped figuration that is astounding to see – especially at San Rocco. But to get back to our present – Cecily Brown traffics in Mannerist AbEx process. And even though we’ve seen it all before, know where it’s going, understand its meaning, it’s still fun to see a painter with the juice actually use this process to work out their personality quirks. Is it new? Will it change our minds? Does it comment on our time or our society or politics? I doubt it. But what’s wrong with using an old mythology to tell old secrets?

“I think most people, artists of my generation, balk even at the word style.” Like, “I don’t have a style! What are you talking about?!” It’s not Abstract Expressionism because that was a long time ago. Is it fifth-generation Abstract Expressionism? I think it pulls from a lot of different periods in art. It’s sort of Post-Post-Modern. It draws on an awful lot of sources but it hopefully churns them all up to become its own thing. People always talk about how I work from Old Masters, but I feel as though I try to absorb everything and chop it all up, fragment it, and hopefully it comes out as something new. So I don’t know how I would describe my own style.” Cecily Brown in conversation with Nicole Rodriguez Woods, September 2015.

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