Bones: On ‘Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid,’ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cecily Brown. 'Selfie,' 2020. Oil on linen, 43 × 47 in. The Swartz Family Collection. © Cecily Brown.

Can a painting be its own opposite? The works in Cecily Brown’s mid-career survey Death and the Maid are both abstract and figurative, canonically referential and hedonistically maximal, their carnivalesque palettes slashed with monotone grays. They are, at once, both surface and core.

The show greets you with a large canvas titled Selfie (2020), which depicts a studio full of other paintings, clocks, open windows, ladders—a composition of mise en abymes of increasingly smaller and unknowable images, in front of which . . .


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