The Nymphs Have Departed is an exquisite example of Cecily Brown’s combination of the figural and the abstract, as well as her celebration of the possibilities of oil paint in the depiction of human flesh. Part of a cycle of paintings that draw upon mythological imagery within the canon of art history, the present work’s composition and title allude to one of the most mythological stories in the Western art historical canon: Diana, the Roman goddess of virginity, the hunt, and the moon, and her devoted nymphs. Painted across the centuries by artists such as Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, Diana and her nymphs are often portrayed nude or scantily dressed. Yet she simultaneously transcends the conventional, straight-forward narrative via a rich and vibrant fracturing of the figure and the landscape.
With a renewed interest in Brown’s practice following the announcement of a major career survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the exhibition will also mark the first museum show of her work in New York since she moved there from London in the 1990s.