Glenn Brown (survey): Des Moines Art Center, Iowa

21 May - 21 August 2016
Solo Exhibitions

Glenn Brown is the first U.S., one-person, survey exhibition of the London-based painter. Reproductions of canonical paintings culled from art history books, magazines, and the Internet are the sources of Brown’s imagery. He borrows from old masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, as well as from contemporary artists such as Frank Auerbach and Willem de Kooning. Through these, he quotes painting’s traditional subjects and techniques, of which many are outdated, and makes them fresh and new. By reaching back into art history, Brown plays with our ideas of what art is, while simultaneously looking to the future of painting.


After selecting a painting, Brown digitally alters the image’s colors, stretches and compresses, or adds and subtracts portions to his liking through Photoshop. He then projects the results of his reconstructions on to a canvas or board and painstakingly paints the image. Exaggerated and often grotesque forms appear in garish colors and dissolve into abstraction. Through his technical virtuosity and a stylized trompe-l’oeil approach, his paintings appear expressionistic or painterly with heavy impasto, but in actuality their surfaces are smooth and flat. As he states, “I have no option other than to appropriate or transpose the images that the world has thrown at me.” In doing so, Brown examines our collective ideas of what constitutes a language of images.


Glenn Brown is organized by Jeff Fleming, Director of the Des Moines Art Center, and includes 33 paintings, sculptures, and prints. A fully illustrated catalog  accompanies the exhibition which includes an essay by Fleming; an interview with the artist by Steven Matijcio, curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati; and an essay by James Clifton, Director, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, and Curator, Renaissance and Baroque Painting, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


The exhibition will travel to the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati September 9, 2016 – January 15, 2017.

Glenn Brown

Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa

21 May – 21 August 2016 

Photo: Edgar Laguinia