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Why Cecily Brown’s Lush Paintings Have Eternal Market Appeal

Painter Cecily Brown is best known for large-scale canvases filled with bravura brushstrokes that exert a certain visual magic. They reward long and careful looking, appearing abstract on first glance and eventually resolving into suggestive figures. Such compositions often conjure female bodies and scenes from the West’s most famous paintings. It’s no wonder they enjoy a rare appeal: Brown’s canvases have been beloved for over two decades without pandering to trends, connecting to various art historical and contemporary interests while retaining a singular, recognizable, and evolving style.

In addition to these aesthetic qualities, disparate market forces—varying interests in figuration or abstraction, a renewed appreciation for female artists, the age-old allure of work depicting women’s bodies—have also helped Brown’s popularity endure. Given the artist’s preternatural talents and global fan base, the market can use her work as a kind of bellwether. Sales of her canvases have tested the profitability of online viewing rooms and the strength of the art market at large...

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