The Blenheim Art Foundation will unveil a significant solo exhibition by acclaimed British artist Cecily Brown at Blenheim Palace, running from 23 April to 5 July 2020. This will be the first exhibition in the Foundation’s programme to be comprised entirely of new work created in response to the Palace, and the first devoted to contemporary painting.
My work has always dealt with conflict and turbulence – CB
Considered one of the foremost painters of her generation, Brown is best known for her large-scale, vivid, gestural paintings which toy between abstraction and figuration in turn. For this exhibition, Brown is developing a significant new body of work. This will respond to Blenheim Palace’s history as an English country estate and as the home to successive generations of the Spencer-Churchill family and their world-renowned permanent collection of paintings, tapestries and decorative arts.
Providing charged re-interpretations of pastoral imagery, hunting scenes and bucolic Victorian fairy painting, Brown – who has been based in the U.S. for the last 25 years – offers an international perspective on her British heritage, critically and sensually exploring the nostalgic fantasies of the British stately home in the popular imagination. Brown’s works evoke a dream-like vision of the past, reflecting on the Palace’s artworks as symbols of power and influence, their images and narratives still informing perceptions of Britain today.
Brown’s work has long drawn on a broad spectrum of influences from the history of painting, often quoting motifs or figures which she abstracts, effaces, or turns feral. Rendered in her emotive, frenetic brushstrokes, Brown’s new series will visually reference masterpieces by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony Van Dyck on view at the Palace, as well as family heraldry, armorial banners and the martial scenes of the Blenheim Tapestries that line the State Rooms. Exhibited amongst the Palace’s extensive collection of artefacts, Brown’s exhibition will converse with centuries of rich British artistic tradition and imagery on display across the opulent eighteenth-century landmark.
Cecily Brown said ‘The invitation to exhibit at Blenheim Palace seemed to me an invitation to look at Britain now. It was thrilling for me to make work with England as its subject. My work has always dealt with conflict and turbulence, both in content and in a physical way. I thought about an idealised vision of England and the contradiction between that and the reality of a nation in turmoil. Blenheim Palace seems the perfect situation in which to display images of a broken country, conflicted about its future and its place in the world, and appears to have only its “glorious” and gory past to offer.’
Michael Frahm, Director of Blenheim Art Foundation, said ‘We are thrilled to announce Cecily Brown’s forthcoming exhibition at Blenheim, which will present all-new, site-specific work inspired by the Palace’s collection. As our first painting show, Cecily’s exhibition continues to push the boundaries of how contemporary art can be shown at a heritage site and will be a further new experience for our visitors. This will be Cecily’s first major UK show in fifteen years and we are proud to showcase her brilliant work to British audiences.’
Edward Spencer-Churchill, Founder of Blenheim Art Foundation, said ‘It is a pleasure to welcome Cecily Brown to Blenheim. As the first British painter in our programme, her phenomenal new body of work brings a fresh and exciting perspective on the rich tradition of painting at the Palace.’
Blenheim Art Foundation has built a reputation for its award-winning exhibition programme, inviting innovative, internationally renowned artists to transform the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palace. Brown is the seventh contemporary artist to be invited by Blenheim Art Foundation to exhibit at the UNESCO world heritage site.
Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969 and studied at the Slade School of Art before moving to New York in 1994. She has been credited as a central figure in the resurgence of painting at the turn of the millennium. Her work is included in the public collections of The British Museum, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MFA, Boston; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Selected solo exhibitions include Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2002); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2004); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (2005); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006–07); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2010); The Drawing Center, New York (2016); The Whitworth, Manchester (2017-18); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2018) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2018-19). The artist has also had numerous solo gallery exhibitions worldwide including at Paula Cooper Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Thomas Dane Gallery, CFA and others. Brown lives and works in New York.
Blenheim Art Foundation launched on 1 October 2014 as a programme of contemporary art at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Offering visitors, a unique opportunity to experience contemporary art in the historical setting of the Palace and its celebrated grounds, the not-for-profit Foundation aims to bring together one of Britain’s most famous landmarks with the work of the most innovative contemporary artists working today. Previous exhibitions include Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace (2014), Lawrence Weiner: Within a Realm of Distance (2015), Michelangelo Pistoletto at Blenheim Palace (2016), SOFTER: Jenny Holzer at Blenheim Palace (2017) (winner of Global Fine Art Award for ‘Best Public Exhibition’), Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace (2018) and Victory is Not an Option: Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace (2019).
BLENHEIM ART FOUNDATION TO PRESENT EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK BY CECILY BROWN AT BLENHEIM PALACE 23 APRIL – 5 JULY 2020