2
2
Cecily Brown
SOCK MONKEY
Estimate
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UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
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1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,630,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
2
Cecily Brown
SOCK MONKEY
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,200,0001,800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,630,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

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London

Cecily Brown
B. 1969
SOCK MONKEY
signed and dated 2003 on the reverse
oil on linen
203.2 by 228.6 cm. 80 by 90 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2004

Exhibited

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Cecily Brown, July - September 2004, pp. 10-11, illustrated in colour
Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts, Cecily Brown, September - October 2004
New York, Deitch Projects, The Garden Party, March - April 2006

Literature

Julie L. Belcove, ‘Brown's Eye’, W, July 2004, p. 86, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Vibrating in the liminal space between figural representation and gestural abstraction, Sock Monkey is a beautifully balanced and rich composition that immerses the viewer in a pulsating and visceral panorama of painterly gestures. Presenting a lush, Edenic landscape in a canopy of verdant greens and earth tones, Brown’s feverish brushstrokes, characteristic of her distinct style, engage the vernacular of painting itself, capitalising on the sensuality of the medium and its ability to playfully manipulate the viewer’s perception through descriptive possibilities. As with the very best examples of Brown’s corpus, Sock Monkey illuminates the extraordinary potential of paint to unpack the admixture of sensorial faculties that makes up our human experience of seeing.

Rooting the scene in the tradition of landscape painting, Sock Monkey features innovations on historical sources. On the edges of the canvas, trees frame Brown’s central erotic actions in paint, a reference to a long lineage of pastoral landscape painting as well as updates of the genre as undertaken by Édouard Manet’s infamous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863, and Paul Cézanne’s bather paintings. Like Manet and Cézanne, Brown is presenting a contemporary take on sexuality. However, in Brown’s style, sexuality becomes enacted directly in the application of paint – historical composition breaks into surges of energy and loosely organised swatches of colour and light. As critic Johanna Drucker writes, “The higher order of compositional organization in Brown’s work references the grand tradition of theatrical landscapes filled with figures allegorical, historical, or observed. Their imagery calls forth terms that stream from the antique – gambol and dalliance, virtue and pursuit, bucolic revels and pastoral delights – a kind of visual play on scenes of Arcadia… She engages with her sources as if in a lover’s provocation to another touch, another exchange, excitement rising with response at the level of the mark, swatch, line of the brush drawn through the wet paint” (Johanna Drucker, ‘Erotic Method’, in Cecily Brown: Paintings 2003-2006, New York 2005, p. 9).

Central in the composition, amid the swathes of luscious brushwork, emerge two anonymous protagonists. Broken down into flashes of oily-wet flesh tones they recall the twisting bodies and forms of Titian or Rubens, and are indebted to the fractured spaces and flesh of Willem de Kooning's Women. Within her corpus, Brown’s figures dissolve into or coalesce from dense and bristling passages of paint, just as the pair of lovers do here; grappling and wrestling with each other, caught between violence and eroticism, they seem to melt into the grass and sky. Brown’s painting uses the history of sex and violence of Western art history; exploring notions of fear, mortality, and the passage of time, as well as erotic love. She pushes her medium and her subjects around, fearlessly activating her canvas. As evident in the present painting Brown unabashedly invokes the flourishes, gestures, and moods of her predecessors, from Rubens's flamboyance to Francis Bacon's dark-spirited Expressionism to de Kooning's angry, sexualised abstractions. Perhaps most evidently, Brown’s visual language and handling of pigment and paint is informed by the gestural mark-making of the American Abstract Expressionists.

Sock Monkey is the embodiment of Brown’s vernacular, pushing the boundaries of both painterly application and loaded subject matter. As Drucker has authoritatively explained: “Her painting isn’t defined by the subject matter of intimacy, but by the methodology of its intimate dynamic as a system of production among others. Surface play and figurative reference dissolve through a system of exchange, calling on an inventory of visual sources. Brown’s painterly economy of erotic method engages the resources of paint in the pleasure principle of return on all investment, savvy and informed” (Ibid., p. 9).

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

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London