“Art” this word itself has numerous meanings, but if we want to conclude all those, art is nothing but the emotion, expression, feelings, etc., of an artist. And it depends on the artist how they want to show it to you. Some of them show it on canvas, and others show it off the canvas. And these two categories also have subdivisions. Art is a vast topic, and those who understood the meaning of it were considered great artists. One of them was raised in suburban Surrey, England. She studied under painter Maggi Hambling before attending art college and graduating in the early 1990s. She was Cecily Brown. 

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©Dave Howells

Brown’s works are famous for their intersection of figuration and abstraction. Her canvas was filled with an intimation of body parts with gestural brushstrokes that resolve clearly into art-inspired scenes, including the formal planes of neoclassicism and abstract expressionists. 

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Be Nice to the Big Blue Sea_©Robert Mckeever

Brown was the daughter of novelist Shenna Mackay and art critic David Sylvester. From a very young age, she was interested in art, and she had full support from her family, mainly from her grandmother, who inspired her a lot. As mentioned earlier, Brown was born and raised in England. After a few years, she moved to New York and studied as an exchange student from the Slade School of Art in 1992. She completed her diploma in Art and Design from the Epsom School of Art in 1987, and then in 1993 received a BA degree in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Art, London. Besides painting, she also studied printmaking and draftsmanship. Later she married architecture critic Nicolai Rousseff.

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Color Etching with Brick Wall_©www.artspace.com/cecily_brown/color-etching-with-brick-wall

She was a Young British Artist back then, but didn’t share the group’s conceptual focus, ironic stance, and embrace of celebrity culture. As she spent six months in New York as an exchange student, she liked that place and returned there in 1994 and started living there. Alongside, she was also contemporaries’ artists such as John Currin and helped to invest in figurative painting. 

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Luck Just Kissed You Hello_©www.artsy.net/artwork/cecily-brown-luck-just-kissed-you-hello

“The place I’m interested in is where the mind goes when it’s trying to make up for what isn’t there.” Was a famous line said by Cecily Brown, which shows her thought process. Brown creates paintings that give the appearance of being in continual flux, alive with the titillating energy of her passionate application and bright color, shifting restlessly between abstract and figurative modes. Her strong treatment of the nude figure, in particular, shows a commitment to conventional subjects free from their anticipated contexts. She uses her drawing as an essential to guide her work. Repetition is very common in her drawing that attracts as well as comforts the viewer. Her works often feature figures engaging in sexual acts under a mist of color, as seen in Sweetie (2001), which shows a semi-abstracted couple captured mid-coitus and rendered in bright pinks and purples. She explores the power of relationships in male and female figures. In her interview with Pittman, she discussed how she defines ‘sexy’ and ‘sexual’ in her work as she said, “I suppose you could say that the sexual is in every painting, whether there is an overt subject or not. The tension within the painting, whatever the subject, is the desired outcome. The sexy would be the girl’s lipstick smile or the shoe- the physical object from the three-dimensional world placed within the painting.” 

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The Young and the Restless_©www.artsy.net/artwork/cecily-brown-the-young-and-the-restless

Some of her notable works are Sky Towers and Bridal Bowers, Those are pearls that were his eyes, Be Nice to the Big Blue Sea, The Green, Green Grass of Home, Untitled (The Beautiful and Damned), Luck Just Kissed You Hello, Footsie, Jimmy Jimmy, Untitled (Paradise), Figures in a Landscape 1, The Sleep Around and the Lost and Found, Is it nice in your snowstorm? The Young and the Restless, We Think the Same Things at the Same Time, Combing the Hair (Outside), Stuck in the Middle With You, Colour Etching with Brick Wall, etc.

In most of the artwork, the medium used is oil on linen. In some of them, she used oil in aluminum or canvas. We can also find many more mediums in her artworks. She is one of the abstract expressionist painters. As she had said in an interview with Lari Pittman that, “As someone who works with traditional materials, I’ve always had little anxiety that the medium isn’t contemporary enough, that the work could have been made at almost any time”. The way she thinks about artwork as a whole is completely different. When a person looks at her artwork, they can easily identify the bold concept behind the artwork. 

Most of the artists used to have one style of work that they followed in all the works, but in the case of Brown, we can see the mixture of two styles, which are Figurative art and Abstract art. Well, some may think that what is so great about it, many other artists also do that, so the answer is yes. But what is so different in Brown’s work is that she chose two completely different and opposite styles and combined them.

Sky Towers and Bridal Bowers_©Cecily Brown and Maccarone, New York

Art takes courage and creativity, and Cecily Brown has shown both through her works. Her bold concept in her artworks tells a completely different story and helps the viewer to imagine that scenario differently. Her creativity and courage can be easily seen through her style of work. Her works have been published in lots of exhibitions and galleries, and no doubt she has made an impact on the world around her through her works. 


Gagosian. (2021). Cecily Brown. https://gagosian.com/artists/cecily-brown/

Artnet. (2021). Cecily Brown. http://www.artnet.com/artists/cecily-brown/

Artsynet. (2021). Cecily Brown. https://www.artsy.net/artist/cecily-brown


A budding artist, poet and dancer by passion and an architecture student by profession pursuing 3rd Year in architecture from MBS SPA, New Delhi. Highly passionate about architecture also understands the language of art, currently running an art page showcasing her own art skills and now here to improve her skills on creative writing towards architecture. Life is a journey with lots of experience and she is here to acquire another set of experience.

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