“Cecily Brown: Rehearsal is the artist’s first solo museum show in New York and the first exhibition dedicated to her drawings. Arranged thematically, the more than eighty small drawings, large-scale works, and sketchbooks on view will foreground Brown’s iterative reworking of motifs from her wide-reaching arsenal of source material—prints by eighteenth-century draftsman William Hogarth, pages from animal encyclopedias, and Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album cover for Electric Ladyland are just some of the images that Brown has rendered again and again in her own hand.
The word “rehearsal,” as derived from the Old French rehercier, originally meant to go over something again with the aim of understanding or mastering it. The notion that this repetitive action was geared toward a culminating performance was a later conceit that has obscured the original definition of the word as valuing inquiry in its own right. Rehearsal is a term that, understood in this sense, aptly describes Brown’s drawing practice. Where Brown’s canvases revel in the visceral immediacy of paint, her drawings offer fragmentary motifs that build upon and undo each other. Indeed, what we witness in her sketches is the artist’s desire to envision and render palpable the images that attract and confound her (she has said that she draws what she wants to see). Painstaking and obsessive in their efforts to capture an entire scene or the slightest of gestures—a turn of a lion’s head here, the edge of a Bruegel painting there—Brown’s drawings take the act of looking as their very subject.” — The Drawing Center
Exhibition curated by Claire Gilman, Senior Curator. Images courtesy The Drawing Center.