Painting Paintings: Glenn Brown Interviewed by David Trigg

By Trigg, David | Art Monthly, April 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Painting Paintings: Glenn Brown Interviewed by David Trigg

Trigg, David, Art Monthly



Glenn Brown: That's why it was difficult to decide which paintings should be in the Tate Liverpool exhibition. I only have photographic records of my paintings and some works look great in the photographs but in reality aren't as good as I remember them, and for others it's the exact opposite, so there were a few surprises when I saw the paintings again. The whole printing process is very crude compared to painting, which is very, very precise. It's why as a technology painting is fantastic and nothing comes anywhere near it.

DT: You once revealed that as a student you would break into the college's painting studios after dark so that you could paint all night.

GB: I'd have to deny that. And anyway, I'm sure the security is much better in Bath now. When I was at Goldsmiths I had my own studio, so there was no need to break in.

DT: It clearly demonstrates how much passion you had for painting--an obsession that is part of your subject matter. Do you still feel the same compulsion?

GB: I still love painting, it's a fantastic game to play--difficult but enjoyable. Painting is a set of puzzles--you know there are answers but sometimes you just can't find them, then you have to go to other paintings and figure out how other people have solved various problems.

DT: The first painting you made of another painting was Atom Age Vampire, in 1991, which was copied from a reproduction of Frank Auerbach's 1973 Head of J.Y.M. and rendered his thick impasto brush marks completely flat. Was that made while you were still at Goldsmiths?

GB: Yes. Most of the paintings in the first room at Tate Liverpool were made when I was at Goldsmiths. That first painting came after a very arduous studio critique; I was making the moonscape and modernist building paintings at the time and people were saying: 'Why are you painting? There's no point, just rephotograph them.' Painting was considered extremely archaic at Goldsmiths in the early 90s but I knew I wanted to paint, I liked the process and its subtlety. Therefore, without changing my work incredibly radically, I tried to answer that problem by making a painting of a painting.


DT: That work represents an important turning point in your career--why isn't it included in the exhibition?

GB: There are other paintings made just after that which are very similar and make the same point slightly better. There's a painting called The Day The World Turned Auerbach from the same year which has greater detail and the sense of obsession is slightly stronger.

DT: It is perhaps more resolute whereas the first painting was more of an experiment?

GB: Yes. The first one is slightly more blurry, it's more Richter-looking whereas The Day The World Turned Auerbach has a sharper, more photorealist look to it.

DT: When you started making paintings of paintings were you aware of Mike Bidlo's project from the 80s, where he made copies of works by Picasso, Warhol and Pollock?

GB: Yes, absolutely. But Sherrie Levine was more of an influence--at the time I was completely in love with her work. Also artists like Simon Linke with his Artforum paintings and even On Kawara; that certain dry, conceptual form of painting is really what I was after.

DT: There's a room in the Liverpool exhibition that juxtaposes several other paintings derived from Auerbach's Head of J.Y.M.--it's a motif you've returned to many times. What is it about that particular painting that made you want to revisit it so frequently?

GB: It's quite a camp image; the pose is very theatrical and the figure has her head turned to one side while still looking at the viewer, so it appears to be quite self-conscious but also very ambiguous.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Painting Paintings: Glenn Brown Interviewed by David Trigg


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?