Madrepora (Alluvial)

  • Gouache, Watercolor & Pastel on Paper
  • 40 x 60 in
  • Cecily Brown


Madrepora (Alluvial), 2017 continues Brown’s ongoing investigation of crowds, drawing upon an eccentric range of references from the drama and dynamism of Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa to the contemporary news images of the “burkini ban” being enforced on the beaches of Nice. The title ‘Madrepora’ is taken from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, in which he references the coral to describe a troupe of young women on the beach, as they undulate in and out of his visual focus. The experience of looking at the work is something akin to what W.H. Auden exhorts in his poem, Ischia, from which the painting gets the second part of its name. Looking at Brown's work requires a restless and inquisitive gaze, one willing to wander the marine space. Veils of blue and green guide the eye through the painting, revealing figures who seem to appear as if by chance only to dissolve back into shrouds of aqueous colour. One can catch only glimpses of human forms pulling the viewer deeper into the pictorial space only to be pushed back to the surface, as if by some tidal force. A Mediterranean light pervades the work, conjuring the sun-drenched beaches of Ischia and scenes of bathers, oceanic blues competing with fleshy peach tones.


Paddle8, Help Refugees Auction, 21 December 2017 (donated by the artist)
Acquired from the above by the present owner



Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
New York, NY

Whitney Museum of American Art
New York, NY

Tate Gallery, London

Museum of Modern Art
New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York

National Gallery of Art
Washington DC

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Washington DC

Museum of Fine Arts

Des Moines Arts Center
Des Moines, IA

Galleria d’Arte Moderna
Torino, Italy

Essel Museum
Klosterneuburg, Austria

Hamburg, Germany

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, NY

  • Created: 2017
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