Glenn Brown (b. 1966)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Glenn Brown (b. 1966)

Dalí-Christ (after Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War 1936 by Salvador Dalí) By kind permission of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Spain

Glenn Brown (b. 1966)
Dalí-Christ (after Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War 1936 by Salvador Dalí) By kind permission of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Spain
signed, titled and dated 'Glenn Brown Dali-Christ 1992' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
108 x 72in. (274.3 x 183cm.)
Painted in 1992
Todd Gallery, London.
Saatchi Collection, London.
Private Collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
S. Morgan, "Confessions of a Body Snatcher", in Frieze International Art Magazine, issue 12, October 1993, pp. 52-55 (illustrated, p. 55).
S. Kent, Shark Infested Waters - The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the 90s, London 1994 (illustrated in colour, p. 113).
R. Timms, A. Bradley and V. Hayward (eds.), Young British Art - The Saatchi Decade, London 1999 (illustrated in colour, p. 96).
P. Elis, 100 - The Work that Changed British Art, London 2003, no. 18 (illustrated in colour, p. 43).
Glenn Brown, exh. cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, September-November 2004 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 101).
London, Serpentine Gallery, Here and Now, 1994.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Young British Artists V, September-December 1995 (illustrated, p. 1).
London, Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Glenn Brown, 1996, no. 3 (illustrated in colour, p. 23 and installation view illustrated in colour, p. 9).
London, The Royal Academy of Arts, Sensation Young British Artist from the Saatchi Collection, September-December 1997 (illustrated in colour, p. 60). This exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof, September 1998-January 1999 and New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, October 1999-January 2000.
Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, Glenn Brown, February-May 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 75). This exhibition later travelled to Turin, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, May-October 2009.
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Lot Essay

With its breathtaking scale, incredible attention to detail and extraordinary conceptual premise, Dalí-Christ (after Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War 1936 by Salvador Dalí) By kind permission of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Spain is an iconic work of Young British Art, which featured in several of the major shows of the movement including the seminal Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997. When it was included in the Here and Now exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994, it instantly caused a controversy when the estate of Salvador Dalí sued for copyright infringement, resulting in the removal of Brown's pictures from the show. This issue, which was later resolved, highlighted the cuttingedge methods and methodology that Brown used in his paintings. Looking at the sheer scale of this work, it is incredible to think of the bravura of the artist, years before his first one-man exhibition, creating something so revolutionary on a scale so colossal.

As the title implies, this work is based on one of the masterpieces of the Spanish Surrealist, Salvador Dalí. His famous Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) from 1936 is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is one of the most recognised of Dalí's pictures. By taking Dalí's original and painting it on a new, vast scale that dwarfs the one metre by one metre original, and by stretching it vertically, Brown has augmented that torment. In its gargantuan reincarnation in the present work, the horror of the original has been transformed into something more religious, as the two central interlinked bodies are stretched to take on this vast crucifixion like form on the new epic scale, hence the title.

Dalí had begun planning Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) as early as 1934, before the start of the Civil War, and changed the title retrospectively to make himself seem more prescient. However, there is no doubting the ferocious anxiety that fuels this image of writhing torment. Dalí himself described the original as: 'a vast human body breaking out into monstrous excrescences of arms and legs tearing at one another in a delirium of autostrangulation. As a background to this architecture of frenzied flesh devoured by a narcissistic and biological cataclysm, I painted a geological landscape, that had been uselessly revolutionised for thousands of years, congealed in its 'normal course.' The soft structure of that great mass of flesh in civil war I embellished with a few boiled beans, for one could not imagine swallowing all that unconscious meat without the presence (however uninspiring) of some mealy and melancholy vegetable' (S. Dalí, quoted in D. Ades, Dalí: The Centenary Retrospective, exh. cat., Venice & Philadelphia 2005, p. 262).

Paradoxically, the meticulous working methods with which Brown has created Dalí-Christ (after Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War 1936 by Salvador Dalí) By kind permission of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Spain jar with the angst that pulses at the centre of Dalí's work. Using a super-enlarged Photo-Realist painterly approach to a xerox-copy of the original painting, Brown meticulously maps out the detail of the original in a completely new form whilst emphasising the change in focus which has occurred throughout the composition. Taking advantage of the new scope for freedom presented by the vast surface of his canvas, Brown has added details and textures to many areas, heightening the crispness and sharpness of various areas and blurring others. The sky is more vivid and the mangled and tormented forms that dominate the composition have been granted a new, tactile texture through the heightened veining and marbling, best demonstrated in the glistening viscera hanging on the right. The details here have taken on a hallucinatory hyper-precision, leaping out with exaggerated focus, anticipating the psychedelic swirls of Brown's more recent paintings after Fragonard. Here, one of the feet has been deliberately left as though unfinished, an incredibly rare manoeuvre in Brown's work that brings the viewer's attention to the artifice of the entire process of appropriation that is under way. Another forceful reminder remains in the form of the white border shown around the image in the present work: this is the brazen proof of Brown's own act of pictorial cannibalism, appropriately echoing the theme of the painting that he has cannibalised and perhaps recognising the influence of Gerhard Richter, whose 'photo-paintings' of the 1960s emphasized their origins in popular press. Whilst Richter is clearly an inspiration, the paintings could not be further apart in their execution or intention.

At the same time, the fact that Brown has made it into a much more vertical image, taking the square format and extending it upwards, means that the torture that dominates the composition has become reminiscent of a Crucifixion, with the vertical and horizontal 'beams' of the body forming a cross. In this way, the pain visible in the facial features of this self-eviscerating figure recalls that of Christ, hence the title. Brown has appropriated, transformed and in fact augmented Dalí's original. There is a jarring contrast between the crisp, deliberately flat picture surface and the tortuous, writhing forms depicted in Dalí's original. Brown avoids painting alla prima, instead keeping the different areas of colour separate, allowing him to retain that sense of crisp perfection so in evidence in the surface of the work.

By basing his work on reproductions, Brown deliberately keeps a distance from the original intentions of the artist whose work he has used as his springboard. That sense of removal is key: Brown is not merely regurgitating his predecessors' works, but is instead creating something that is distinctly his own. The fact that he does this while using the pictures of Fragonard, Appel, Dalí or Auerbach as a starting point is almost moot: his pictures are recognisable as the works of Glenn Brown in an instant. In this sense, the anguished martyrdom of the present work becomes all the more appropriate a motif. Thus, in terms of subject matter and technique, this painting perfectly demonstrates Brown's statement that, 'I'm attracted to the Gothic notion of a figure trapped somewhere between the psyche of the model, the artist, the photographer, the printing process and me' (G. Brown, quoted in S. Kent, Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the 90s, London 1994, p. 10).

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