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Brice Marden

Brice Marden (b. 1938, Bronxville, NY) is a seminal figure of the Minimalist movement, although his work extends to include lyrical influences from Abstract Expressionism and non-Western traditions. He is known for his dedication to color and form as a way to explore intangible states through abstract elements, including monochromes, grid, and calligraphic marks.

Marden received his MFA from Yale University in 1963, having studied under Alex Katz and Jon Schueler. He later moved to New York, where he worked as a guard at the Jewish Museum before becoming Robert Rauschenberg’s assistant. His signature language of a rectangular format and muted palette was realized early in his career through monochromatic panels first done in 1964. These densely colored canvases were executed as single panel works, diptychs, and triptychs.

After years of working exclusively in New York and creating paintings and prints inspired by the grid layout of urban life, Marden traveled to Hydra, a Greek island that helped shape his later work. Exposure to ancient Roman and Greek architecture, as well as to the light and colors of the Mediterranean landscape translated into bolder works throughout the 1970’s and continued influence in the 1980s.

He was also profoundly struck by another one of his travels. In 1983, after a tour of Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, his practice pivoted from a serial and geometric format to more calligraphic, gestural lines. After further studying Japanese calligraphy at the Asia Society and Japan House Gallery in New York, calligraphy would come to have a strong influence on his work for the rest of his career.

Marden has engaged with printmaking since his beginnings as an artist. He has worked most notably with etchings, which he considers to be one of the most important influences on his paintings and drawings. He began studying printmaking as a student and practiced his technique at Chiron Press—a screen-print shop in New York City, where he worked as a young man. He came to etching after an initial collaboration with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press, and was attracted to the medium’s potential for subtlety, and the tactile and physical engagement it required further appealed to his artistic sensibilities.

In the 1980s, Marden began experimenting with winding, intercrossing lines over fields of color. He has been making references to the natural world in his work ever since. Recently, Marden has incorporated monochrome qualities in his work.

Marden’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; British Museum, UK; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; High Museum of Art, GA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam NL; Tate Modern, London, UK and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

The Menil Drawing Institute, Houston, TX is set to host a survey exhibition of Marden’s drawings in 2020 entitled “Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden's Drawings.” In 2015, the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited Marden’s etchings alongside Freud’s in “Existentialism and Abstraction.” Other major printmaking shows have taken place at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden (1999), Saint Louis Art Museum (1993), London’s Tate Gallery (1992), and Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum (1981).

Marden has had important exhibitions throughout the world, including a retrospective at the  Museum of Modern Art in 2006. Throughout his career, Marden has been included in 51 other group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. Other major solo shows were held by the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech (2019), the Glenstone Museum (2018), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; 1975 and Documenta IX, Kassel 1972.
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