Cecily Brown will fill grand birthplace of Winston Churchill with images of broken Britain

UK artist says exhibition at Blenheim Palace is a timely opportunity to examine the country's current tumult

Cecily Brown (left) is the latest artist to be chosen for an exhibition at Blenheim Palace (right) Brown: Photo by Tom Lindboe, 2019. Both images courtesy of Blenheim Art Foundation

The UK artist Cecily Brown will ponder on the issue of broken Britain and the state of England in a show due to open at Blenheim Palace, the 18th-century stately home in Oxfordshire, this spring (23 April-5 July). The exhibition, the latest in an annual series of contemporary art shows organised by the Blenheim Art Foundation, will include new works that “respond to Blenheim Palace’s history as an English country estate and as the home to successive generations of the Spencer-Churchill family”, a press statement says.

Brown’s paintings will refer to works on show at the residence by SirJoshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony Van Dyck, drawing also on family heraldry and armorial banners on display. According to the Guardian, New York-based Brown will make at least 20 new works.

The show is a timely opportunity to examine the current tumult in the UK, Brown says, allowing her to explore her “idealised vision of England and the contradiction between that and the reality of a nation in turmoil”. She adds in a statement: “Blenheim Palace seems the perfect situation in which to display images of a broken country, conflicted about its future and its place in the world, and seeming to have only its ‘glorious’ and gory past to offer.”

Brown's show is the seventh contemporary art exhibition to be held at the palace; previous exhibitions were dedicated to artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jenny Holzer, Ai Weiwei and Yves Klein. Last year, Maurizio Cattelan’s fully functioning 18-carat gold toilet (America, 2016) was stolen while on display in the exhibition Victory is Not an Option; the work has not been recovered and no charges have been brought regarding the theft.