Tender is the Night
About This Artwork
Throughout her career, Cecily Brown has explored how painting can illuminate the erotic charge of the human form. Brown first emerged in the mid-1990s with compositions of explicitly sexual imagery. Building on the big gestural paint strokes and all-over compositions developed by abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell in the 1950s, she creates paintings that are simultaneously abstract and figurative. In Tender is the Night, the figure is not immediately apparent, but mixed into the jabs and tangles of yellow and flesh-toned paint is a female form on all fours. Though not overt in the carnal details that the pose conjures, the work suggests a state of hazy ecstasy; the figure’s immersion into her frenetic surroundings points to a moment of pure instinct, when consciousness and the physical world become one.