The iconoclastic British artist Glenn Brown pokes at notions of originality by taking historic work, drawings, or prints—by the likes of Diego Velázquez, Eugène Delacroix, or Anthony van Dyck—and reimagining them in radical, otherworldly ways in which dazzle and discomfit in equal measure. Maybe he’ll render a nude’s flesh in turbulent swirls of inexperienced, or atomize an etched face right into a fantastic mist. In a latest present on the British Museum, his graphic reproductions of Rembrandt portraits, layered on prime of one another till they appeared like lumps of clay, had been paired with the Dutch Grasp’s works that impressed them.
By no means and not using a natty necktie or pocket sq., the would-be tutorial has turned artwork historical past on its head whereas giving new life to the bygone works of Previous Masters. The result’s a surreal subversion of art-world classics, a up to date retelling that has made Brown, a Turner Prize nominee, one in every of Britain’s most celebrated residing artists, with public sale costs that soar into the seven digits. The Gagosian-repped artist is exhibited broadly, having introduced solo exhibits on the Serpentine Gallery in London, Tate Liverpool, and the Laing Artwork Gallery in Newcastle.
Whereas he doesn’t consider himself as a collector per se, he’s nonetheless constructed a large archive containing each his creations and that of different artists. To accommodate the Brown Assortment, he lately opened a museum in London (open to the general public and freed from cost), a renovated 1905 mews warehouse in Marylebone with 4 flooring of exhibition area. The present exhibition, “The Leisure Centre,” furthers his exploration of originality, asking the viewer to develop into a flaneur, “questioning which century a piece was made, who made it, and why.”
On the eve of Frieze London, we spoke with Brown about a few of the historic works in his archive which have impressed him essentially the most.
What was your first buy?
I don’t think about myself a collector. I purchase works once I really feel I can beg, borrow, or steal one thing from them. They develop into essential instruments for me to learn to be a greater artist.
What was your most up-to-date buy?
I simply bought a lovely 18th-century portrait drawing by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It’s purple and white chalk on blue paper, which could be very typical of Venetian Baroque drawing. I have already got a drawing underway that makes use of components of it. I’ve used Tiepolo’s colour, line, and figures in lots of work and drawings over the previous few years.
Inform us a couple of favourite work in your assortment.
I discover the thought of selecting a favourite quite infantile. As a human being, you may benefit from the distinction and individuality of individuals and artwork. One minute I may be loving a Gillian Carrying sculpture, then by the afternoon I may be greatly surprised by a Jan Van Noordt portrait. I solely purchase issues if they’re my favourite at that second.
Which works or artists are you hoping so as to add to your assortment this yr?
I’m not certain I’m that strategic. As I accumulate such a broad spectrum of artists all through the centuries, making an attempt to gather with a method is problematic. In a way, it doesn’t matter if the artist is legendary or comparatively unknown, whether or not it’s an artist I have already got within the assortment or haven’t even encountered earlier than. What’s essential is whether or not the work evokes me.
What’s the most dear murals that you just personal?
Probably the most worthwhile to me are those which have influenced me essentially the most. I’ve in my studio a small etching, Pieta from 1596 by Hendrick Goltzius. I can’t perceive how the human hand and mind could make an art work so emotionally participating and technically sensible.
The place do you purchase artwork most continuously?
Public sale homes and artwork sellers. What I’ve discovered is to see the items within the flesh first. It’s actually tempting to be seduced by a picture on-line, but it surely doesn’t let you know if the work has that sense of magic or the vivacity that turns a murals into one thing you fall in love with.
Is there a piece you remorse buying?
Be cautious of public sale homes. I wrote down the lot quantity subsequent to the portray I wished and left a bid. Once I acquired the bill I noticed I had purchased the portray subsequent to it, a really darkish, late Seventeenth-century Neapolitan College portray of Saint Elias. I misplaced my bid for a extremely lovely portray and gained an unsightly duckling.
What’s the most impractical murals you personal?
I did a present in 2017 on the Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence the place I made work to suit a few of their esteemed assortment of Renaissance frames. I used to be so enamored by the method of the body being a place to begin for a brand new work that I started to gather vintage frames from throughout Italy—Florence, Bologna, Venice, and Rome. I’ve an enormous and really ornate Seventeenth-century carved gilt wooden Florentine body made for the Medici household. We haven’t dared get it out of the crate to hold it because it’s so fragile.
What work do you’ve gotten hanging above your couch? What about in your lavatory?
I painted On the Approach to the Leisure Centre (2017), a big, reclining, inexperienced nude, particularly to hold above an imaginary couch. I cherished the portray a lot I couldn’t promote it, however have by no means really hung it above an actual couch. In our lavatory, we’ve an 18th-century portrait by Ubaldo Gandolfi. It’s a fantastic and delicate portray, in a room that occurs to be a rest room.
If you happen to may steal one murals with out getting caught, what wouldn’t it be?
Why would I wish to steal a portray from a museum? I really like that museums have artwork and objects on public show. If being a collector means denying entry to things and their capability to be proven, why would I wish to be a collector?
What work do you would like you had purchased while you had the prospect?
There was a portrait portray by Bernardo Strozzi (1581 Genoa—1644 Venice) I had the prospect to purchase. It was not in superb situation and had been partially overpainted, however even I may inform it was a powerful work. I’ve since made a drawing and a portray after it, so clearly I remorse not shopping for it. I’ve now seen it restored and it truly is a masterpiece.
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