September 28, 2023


Make Some Fun

Brice Marden (1938–2023) – Artforum Worldwide

5 min read

Brice Marden, who drew from Summary Expressionism and Minimalism in pathbreaking explorations of gesture, line, and shade that put him in a class of 1, died August 9 at his house in Tivoli, New York, after managing most cancers for a number of years. He was eighty-four. Marden rose to fame within the early Nineteen Seventies along with his densely hued multipanel works, which he created simply as portray had gone out of trend, thus reviving the medium for a brand new era. Subsequent a long time noticed him shift to utilizing marble fragments as a substrate for each vibrantly coloured and neutral-toned abstractions, impressed by his time on the Greek island of Hydra, the place he lived part-time; within the Nineteen Eighties, he started partaking with the calligraphic type, which he most notably explored in his extensively lauded “Chilly Mountain” works begun late in that decade. Critic Peter Schejdahl in a 2006 subject of the New Yorker named Marden “essentially the most profound summary painter of the previous 4 a long time.”

Nicholas Brice Marden Jr. was born on October 15, 1938, in Bronxville, New York, and grew up in neighboring Briarcliff Manor. He attended Florida Southern School briefly earlier than returning north to acquire his BFA from the Boston College Faculty of Advantageous and Utilized Arts in 1961 and his MFA from the Yale Faculty of Artwork two years later. Following a stint as a safety guard at New York’s Jewish Museum, the place the work of Jasper Johns had an amazing impact on him, he took a job as an assistant to Robert Rauschenberg. “It was a gentle part-time job—11 to five, three days every week—doing a little low-level sorting, cleansing home windows, and arranging numerous storage areas,” he advised Artforum in 2008. “It developed into making espresso, answering the telephone, screening calls, and usually doing all the things to make it so Bob might simply work.” Marden took famous of Rauschenberg’s intense focus, however not often noticed the older artist convey it to bear in his work. “I by no means noticed him draw and barely noticed him paint,” Marden recalled. “He did that largely at night time.”

In 1966, the identical yr he started working for Rauschenberg, Marden had his first solo present, at New York’s Bykert Gallery, the place he confirmed the primary of his soon-to-be-iconic monochromes, created from a mix of oil, beeswax, and turpentine that the artist utilized to the canvas utilizing a knife or spatula. Although ill-received at first, with critics complaining that his work was an excessive amount of like that of Johns, these canvases would earn him broad and enduring acclaim not only for the deep sense of calm they evoked however for his or her inviting physicality (critic Douglas Crimp was reported to have expressed a need to lick the floor of considered one of Marden’s work). Marden continued to work on this mode over the following decade, producing single-panel monochromes in addition to diptychs, triptychs, and four-panel works. Typical of those are his Red Yellow Blue work of the mid-Nineteen Seventies, which function the titular main hues offered as if filtered by means of a haze of grey.

In 1977, Marden was commissioned to design the stained-glass home windows for the Basel Cathedral. Although the home windows would by no means be realized, the method of designing them pushed him towards brighter colours, as evinced in his Nineteen Eighties work on marble fragments, which have been moreover impressed by visits to Rome and Pompeii. Throughout this decade, Marden shifted his consideration away from portray and towards drawing. “I might start with this shade, and this shade, and this shade,” he advised Chris Ofili in a 2006 subject of Artforum, describing his earlier encaustic canvases. “However I needed to hold working the colours up till I bought them to actually learn the best way I wished them to. I’d make adjustments, however not very many. After which I simply bought bored with it. It appeared like I used to be simply refining as a substitute of discovering issues as I went alongside. And I had been attempting to get extra drawing into the work.”

Impressed by numerous household journeys to Asian nations and by a go to to the 1984–85 exhibition “Masters of Japanese Calligraphy, eighth–nineteenth Century,” collaboratively organized by New York’s Japan Home and Asia Society, Marden created his “Chilly Mountain” works of 1989–91, a bunch of nine-by-twelve-foot work comprising delicate black calligraphic swoops on mild grounds. Regardless of their huge dimension, the canvases evoked an airiness that stood in distinction to the reserved, muted works that had introduced him to prominence. The tangled traces offered right here would mark later canvases, together with these in his brightly coloured 2000 sequence “The Propitious Backyard of Aircraft Picture,” which, at twenty-four toes lengthy, have been his largest up to now.

Marden’s work is held in collections of establishments the world over and have grow to be among the most sought-after within the public sale market, commanding prices much like these of outdated masters like Rembrandt. At no level, nevertheless, did Marden relaxation on his laurels. “To start with they actually didn’t need [my work],” he advised Ofili. “However then it wasn’t lengthy earlier than they did. And I’m very joyful that they do, however I’m additionally considering, I’m going to do that present on the Fashionable, after which I’m going to maneuver to the nation and simply begin portray these rocks. And possibly they’re not going to need these things. Does it grow to be like a model? I don’t know.”

Marden continued to color till the tip of his life, although his mode of working modified barely within the mid-aughts. “In the previous few years, I discover myself spending extra time trying on the portray than portray it,” he advised the Brooklyn Rail’s Jeffrey Weiss in 2009. Marden’s daughter Mirabelle in an Instagram post revealed that he had been portray in his studio till only a few days earlier than his dying. Although he remained in some methods unsure about his success, he was assured about his course of.

“I by no means have an concept that [a work is] going to finish up a sure means,” he advised Ofili. “It’s a dialogue with the factor itself. It forces you to do stuff, and then you definitely’re not glad with sure issues, so that you pressure it to do one thing else. You retain going, and eventually, there’s simply no dialog anymore.”


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