“I’ve always wondered, like, what is so masculine about abstraction? How did men get ownership over this?” asks Cecily Brown.
The truth is that women have never been treated equally in the art world. Even today, with the demise of gender bias seen in most industries, female artists remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued. Most women find it difficult to sell their work and gain recognition, but renowned artist Cecily Brown has shattered the archaic barriers of this creative industry and found her way to the top of the male-dominated market.
“Female artists are important to the art conversation,” said Jeremy Larner, a private art dealer and president of New York-based JKL Worldwide. “Excluding an artist from being shown because of a factor unrelated to the art idea leads to the loss of important conversations in art. When artists are dismissed from the imagery of the moment, it can take decades to re-germinate their ideas in regional, national and international art. I think we should show all artists bold enough to open their ideas up for critical review.”
Brown, a British painter specializing in figurative and abstract art, is among the few female artists who have experienced escalated prices at auction. Her current record, a painting titled Suddenly Last Summer that achieved $6,776,200 including the buyer’s premium in May 2018 at Sotheby’s New York, heightened desire for her work in the upcoming months was achieved in June 2017 at Sotheby’s in London. Where the painting The Girl Who Had Everything (1998) sold with an elevated price of $1,976,250, and collectors and institutions expect a heightened desire for her work in the upcoming months.
“Compared to her contemporaries, she is making work that is distinct and that offers her particular view on art,” said Larner. “There is a big focal point on female artists right now, too, and I think that comes from the cultural flashpoints that we’ve seen in the past few years.”
Born in London in 1969, Brown faced a promising academic and artistic future. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1989 and moved to New York in the early 1990s with hopes to explore the ideals of feminism and sexuality, principals that already had an emergent presence in the New York art scene. Early in her career, Brown experimented with different media types, but she is most famously known for her role in the rebirth of painting and her ongoing theme of underlying eroticism. Since 1990, over 119 exhibitions have featured the work of Cecily Brown, showcasing her work in commercial galleries, non-for profit galleries or foundations and public museums.
Her annual exhibition total peaked in 2017 with 9 shows, including 3 shows in public and private museums or foundations and an additional 6 in commercial galleries. “I think she’s one of the best living artists in her generation. The work I respond to most are pieces from late ’90s and early 2000s. I think Brown developed an adaptable language in painting that has proven itself useful to the totally new methods of interpreting paint today,” Larner said.