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.
Extended through December 22, 2017
October 4–December 22, 2017
Grosvenor Hill, London
The Show is Over
October 15–November 30, 2013
Britannia Street, London
Red Yellow Blue
January 17–February 23, 2013
980 Madison Avenue, New York
The Private Collection of Robert Rauschenberg
November 3–December 23, 2011
980 Madison Avenue, New York
February 12–June 10, 2009
980 Madison Avenue, New York
for what you are about to receive
September 18–October 25, 2008
Red October, Moscow
Imageless Icons: Abstract Thoughts
February 3–March 26, 2005
Britannia Street, London
From the Quarterly
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 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.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Seattle Art Fair
August 2–5, 2018, booth A09
CenturyLink Field Event Center, Seattle
Gagosian is pleased to present Out of This World: Artists Explore Space, a booth curated by Larry Gagosian for the 2018 Seattle Art Fair. The presentation gathers works that reveal artistic and scientific explorations of the cosmos. Featured artists include Richard Avedon, Andisheh Avini, Chris Burden, Alexander Calder, Vija Celmins, Ellen Gallagher, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Neil Jenney, Mike Kelley, Yves Klein, Vera Lutter, Brice Marden, Marc Newson, Nam June Paik, Thomas Ruff, Ed Ruscha, Tom Sachs, Taryn Simon, Yves Tanguy, and Andy Warhol, among others.
Ed Ruscha, Even Though He’s Light Years Away, His Heart Belongs to Me, 1963 © Ed Ruscha
Bard SummerScape 2018
July 6–8, 2018
Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Brice Marden is collaborating with choreographer Pam Tanowitz and composer Kaija Saariaho to present the world premiere of Four Quartets, the first-ever authorized dance performance based on T. S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece from 1943. All three collaborators share Eliot’s gift for abstraction and furthermore, like the poet, all three artists combine a conceptual approach with a profound feel for the personal. To attend the event, purchase tickets at fishercenter.bard.edu.
Brice Marden, Untitled (Hydra), 2018 © 2018 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Bill Jacobson
TEFAF New York
May 4–8, 2018, booth 70
Park Avenue Armory, New York
Gagosian is pleased to participate in TEFAF, New York, presenting new works by John Currin and Brice Marden. Portraits by Currin will be juxtaposed with multilayered, calligraphic works on paper by Marden. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.tefaf.com.
John Currin, Untitled, 2018 (detail) © John Currin
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
The Great Graphic Boom
March 3–May 28, 2017
This exhibition explores the intense interest in graphic art among many leading artists of the postwar art period. With works from twenty-five artists, including Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol, the show highlights the use of graphic media both as a refined form of expression and as an important phase in the artistic process. The exhibition has been organized with support from Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany.
Andy Warhol, Flower, 1964 © 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Therese Husby, courtesy Nasjonalmuseet