I paint paintings made up of one, two, or three panels. I work from panel to panel. I will paint on one until I arrive at a color that holds that plane. I move to another panel and paint until something is holding that plane that also interestingly relates to the other panels. I work the third, searching for a color value that pulls the planes together into a plane that has aesthetic meaning.
Gagosian is pleased to present Brice Marden’s Red Yellow Blue paintings. This is the first time that all four paintings comprising the historic group have been shown together, with loans from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; and private collections in the United States. Fourth Figure (Red Yellow Blue) (1973–74), a related painting that treats the chromatic primaries as a composition of three horizontal bands, will also be on view.
Marden’s early monochromatic paintings exist as single panels, diptychs, and triptychs. Restraining the gestural intensity of Color Field painting through contemplative reserve and calm, their inscrutable surfaces belie a nuanced equilibrium between emotive passion and formal rigor.
In each of the Red Yellow Blue paintings (1974), Marden painted slabs of dense yet nuanced color on three adjoined canvas panels, using oil paint mixed on the spot with melted beeswax and turpentine and applied with a knife and spatula. The dull sheen of the encaustic medium intensifies the bold, contrasting color blocks, built up through the temperamental layering process that yielded such intricately worked surfaces. The spirited variations within each “primary” trio (where red can range from cadmium to almost black, yellow from ochre to saffron, and blue from cobalt to sullen indigo) are rich with interpretative possibility—like musical chords improvised in major and minor keys.
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.