PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Sale: Christie's, London, Contemporary Art, 6 February 2002, Lot 133
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
London, Saatchi Gallery, Young British Artists V: Glenn Brown, Keith Coventry, Hadrian Pigott, Kerry Stewart, 1995
Hexham, Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Glenn Brown, 1996, p. 9, no. 7, and catalogue cover, illustrated in colour
Graz, Grazer Kunstverein, Fernbedienung: does television inform the way art is made?, 1996, p. 62, illustrated in colour
London, Royal Academy of Arts; Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof; New York, Brooklyn Museum, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, 2007, p. 61, illustrated in colour
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Kunsthalle; Borås, Konstmuseum, Helvete/Hell, 2011, pp. 40-41, illustrated in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Liverpool, Tate Liverpool; Turin, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Glenn Brown, 2009, p. 31, illustrated in colour
Brown references the original source imagery of Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) copied from ‘The Stars Like Dust’, 1986 by Chris Foss within the work’s title, acknowledging the importance of pioneering science fiction artist, Chris Foss, as an inspiration for his own art, even going so far as to state a comparison with Vincent Van Gogh: “Chris Foss is a very inventive illustrator; I think he, like Van Gogh, changed the way I see the world. When artists create something that has never been seen before, and when their creations are so clever and such a surprising alternative to what you already know, then you can never erase their visions from your mind” (the artist in conversation with Rochelle Steiner in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, Serpentine Gallery, Glenn Brown, 2004, p. 97). Foss’ illustrations consist of giant mechanical structures floating eerily in space. Anthropomorphised computers and sparsely populated alien landscapes have featured heavily on the covers of books by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick, distilling the look of science fiction for a receptive generation raised alongside the growing potentials of CGI effects in movies and the world of video-gaming. Appropriating Foss’ The Stars Like Dust, an illustration for Isaac Asimov’s novel of the same name, Brown re-invents the image on a colossal scale, utilising his remarkable technical facility with oil on canvas and endowing the scene with radiantly vibrant colours to create of work of astounding dramatic impact.
The memorable, sometimes fantastical and seemingly extraneous titles of Brown’s paintings often refer to music the artist has been inspired by: “Songs very often come into my head when I look at paintings. Music places me emotionally in a particular moment… There are songs about being sad, about being rejected in love, and about other very strong emotions. They trigger a realisation that you are part of the world, and yet an individual within it” (the artist cited in: Ibid., p. 97). Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) copied from ‘The Stars Like Dust’, 1986 by Chris Foss does not only pay homage to Chris Foss, but also to Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division who tragically took his own life in 1980. Brown has frequently been moved to honour Curtis in the titles of his science fiction paintings. Placing his science fiction works firmly within the context of traditional history painting, Brown has spoken of the significant influence of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century artistic schools on the creation of Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) copied from ‘The Stars Like Dust’, 1986 by Chris Foss. The paintings of J.M.W. Turner and Jacques-Louis David, alongside Foss’ feats of invention, have served as a particular source of inspiration for Brown’s artistic investigations into cosmic exploration: “Those paintings refer both to the conventions of science fiction and to the spectacle of large-scale landscape or history paintings such as those by Turner or David. I like the scale and elaborate composition that a painting, as opposed to the small scale of a book illustration, can offer” (the artist cited in: Ibid., p. 99). The current lot appears to posit a contemporary version of the Sublime, the philosophical theory first articulated in the Eighteenth Century by Edmund Burke, which advocated the contemplation of natural wonders as a means to enlightenment. Brown’s presentation of heretofore unimaginable alternate universes inspires awe and astonishment in a futuristic parallel to a traveller from the Romantic era encountering the majestic beauty of the Alps for the first time, a sensation of wonder captured by German painters of the Romantic landscape tradition such as Caspar David Friedrich. Ultimately, Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) copied from ‘The Stars Like Dust’, 1986 by Chris Foss enables the onlooker to transcend the limitations imposed by earthly bounds through an exhilarating encounter with a painting of truly astonishing power and imagination.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale