Ultimately I’m using the painting as a sounding board for the spirit. . . . You can be painting and go into a place where thought stops—where you can just be and it just comes out. . . . I present it as an open situation rather than a closed situation.
Brice Marden continuously refines and extends the traditions of lyrical abstraction. Experimenting with self-imposed rules, limits, and processes, and drawing inspiration from his extensive travels, Marden brings together the diagrammatic formulations of Minimalism, the immediacy of Abstract Expressionism, and the intuitive gesture of calligraphy in his exploration of gesture, line, and color.
In 1963 Marden received an MFA from Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture, where his teachers included the painters Alex Katz and Jon Schueler. After graduation he worked as a guard at the Jewish Museum in New York. There, during a 1964 Jasper Johns retrospective, Marden studied Johns’s early works extensively and considered them in relation to the Baroque masters he has long admired, such as Francisco de Zurbarán, Francisco Goya, and Diego Velázquez. Marden’s works from the 1960s include subtle, shimmering monochromes in gray tones, sometimes assembled canvases into multipanel works, in a manner similar to the black paintings and White Paintings of Robert Rauschenberg, who hired Marden as a studio assistant in 1966.
A trip to Greece in the early 1970s led Marden to create the Hydra paintings (1972), which capture the turquoise hues of the Mediterranean, and Thira (1979–80), a painting composed of eighteen interconnected panels inspired by the shadows and geometry of ancient temples. To heighten the effect of each color, plane, and brushstroke, Marden developed the unique process of adding beeswax and turpentine to oil paint and applying the mixture in many thin layers. Marden employed this technique for the Grove Group paintings (1972–76)—exhibited at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery in New York in 1991, along with related works—and the Red Yellow Blue paintings (1973–74)—five permutations of the primary trio—which were united for the first time since their making at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York in 2013.
In the 1980s Marden began to incorporate organic, intersecting lines, creating rhythmic patterns over fields of color. He has been exploring these winding lines ever since, experimenting with blank space, erasure, and references to the natural world. He seeks to create a mystical experience through the creation of elusive abstract spaces. As his many themes and techniques have overlapped, Marden has sought to bring them together in cohesive, often multipart works, which he has described as his “summation paintings.” Among them is The Propitious Garden of Plane Image, Third Version (2000–06), held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he had his first comprehensive retrospective in 2006.
In recent years Marden has continued his exploration of the qualities of monochrome. This engagement with muted colors has informed new calligraphic drawings and works on canvas, such as the Nevis Stele paintings (2007–15), inspired by Chinese stone carvings from the late eighth century. In 2017 he turned his gaze to the expansive possibilities of terre verte (green earth), an iron silicate clay pigment, which he first used in the Grove Group. His new paintings incorporate many different brands of terre verte, each a variation on the indefinable hue. Marden thins his slow-drying paint and applies it gradually to the canvas in many successive layers, leaving a visible residue of the painting process at the lower edge of each canvas.
It reminds me of something, and I don’t know what it is.
November 9–December 21, 2019
980 Madison Avenue, New York
April 4–June 1, 2019
Extended through December 22, 2017
October 4–December 22, 2017
Grosvenor Hill, London
Red Yellow Blue
January 17–February 23, 2013
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Intimate Grandeur: Glenstone Museum
Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Set amid 230 acres of pristine landscape and housing a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, this graceful complex of pavilions, designed by architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, opened to the public in the fall of 2018.
Brice Marden: Four Quartets
Four paintings by Brice Marden have been incorporated into a new dance commission based on T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, with choreography by Pam Tanowitz, and music by Kaija Saariaho. The performance will premiere on July 6, 2018 at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard as part of the SummerScape Festival. Gideon Lester, the Fisher Center’s artistic director for theater and dance, spoke with Marden about the canvases that form the set design.
Robert Pincus-Witten on Brice Marden
In honor of Robert Pincus-Witten, we share an essay he wrote in 1991 on Brice Marden’s Grove Group.
Brice Marden, Gary Hume, and Tim Marlow
At the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Brice Marden sat down with fellow painter Gary Hume and the Royal Academy’s artistic director, Tim Marlow, to discuss his newest body of work.
Work in Progress
With preparations underway for a London exhibition, we visit the artist’s studio.
Gagosian at Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées
Opening reception: Saturday, October 12, 6:30–8pm
October 12–20, 2019
Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, Paris
In celebration of FIAC in Paris, Gagosian is pleased to collaborate with Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées on a two-floor pop-up takeover featuring products related to Gagosian artists. On the first floor, the Coin Culture section will feature catalogues, posters, apparel, and audio productions. The second floor, the Library, will house an additional selection of limited-edition books, publications, and catalogues raisonnés.
Gagosian at Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, Paris
A line (a)round an idea
Selected Works on Paper
Saturday, June 22, 2019, 11am
This event has been canceled.
Join us for a tour of A line (a)round an idea at Gagosian, Geneva. The exhibition, which presents black-and-white works on paper spanning a period of seventy years, includes work by Richard Artschwager, Georg Baselitz, Bruce Conner, Willem de Kooning, Günther Förg, Sam Francis, Keith Haring, Christine Hiebert, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Brice Marden, Henri Matisse, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and others. Gagosian’s Johan Nauckhoff will give an overview of the exhibition, focusing on ways in which modern and contemporary artists have explored the clarity and activating power of the simple line, mark, splatter, or stroke. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Installation view, A line (a)round an idea: Selected Works on Paper, Gagosian, Geneva, May 2–July 27, 2019. Artwork, left to right: © Cy Twombly Foundation; © 2019 Richard Artschwager/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © 2019 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Richard Serra; © 2019 Dedalus Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
May 22–25, 2019
Barbican Theatre, London
Brice Marden is collaborating with choreographer Pam Tanowitz and composer Kaija Saariaho to present Four Quartets, a titular dance performance based on T. S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece from 1943. The evocative stage design centers on paintings by Marden, their exquisite colors and strokes making connections to the geographical locations of the masterpiece’s four individual parts. Containing piercing and unforgettable literary passages, this unprecedented collaborative performance of the work is the first to be authorized by the T. S. Eliot Estate. To attend the event, purchase tickets at barbican.org.uk.
Premiere of Four Quartets at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, July 6–8, 2018. Photo: Maria Baranova
Cold Mountain Studies
June 9–August 11, 2019
“T” Space, Rhinebeck, New York
The thirty-five Cold Mountain drawings on display were key creative experiments leading toward Brice Marden’s widely acclaimed Cold Mountain paintings of the late 1980s. Marden has credited the ninth-century Chinese monk and poet Hanshan (“Cold Mountain”) and translator Bill Porter with inspiring his stylistic shift from monochrome to calligraphic painting.
Brice Marden, Cold Mountain Study (29), 1988–91 © 2019 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Photo: Jochen Littkemann
February 22–March 12, 2019
Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech, Morocco
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech, is exploring the long-standing influence of Morocco on Brice Marden’s work. The primary focus of the exhibition is Marden’s extensive output of works on paper, more than sixty of which are on view here: Among these are forty-eight works that were once contained in a workbook that the artist used over the past decade of his travels. Marden spent some of this time in Morocco, where, since 2015, he has worked part of the year. The exhibition includes one painting: Helen’s Moroccan Painting (1980), its colors inspired by the green of the valleys and the red of the earth as witnessed by the artist during a January 1978 trip driving from Ouarzazate.
Brice Marden, Helen’s Moroccan Painting, 1980 © 2019 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Brice Marden in
Nature + Abstraction
May 22–August 12, 2018
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel
This exhibition shows how themes of abstraction are explored by artists whose investigations of nature and its varied perceptions play a major role in their work. The central room is dedicated to Brice Marden, whose exceptionally clear and seemingly simple paintings are deeply influenced by his personal interests and fascination with nature, light, and color.
Brice Marden, Moon III, 1977, Daros Collection, Switzerland © 2018 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Beginning of Everything
Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and David Whitney Collections
February 24–June 18, 2017
The Menil Collection, Houston
In anticipation of the October 2017 opening of the Menil Drawing Institute, the museum is exhibiting a selection of drawings spanning the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. The show highlights promised gifts from the collections of Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, as well as works from David Whitney’s 2005 bequest, which include those by Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Helen Frankenthaler, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread.
Brice Marden, Untitled, 1988–91 © Brice Marden/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York