1938, Bronxville, New York
2023, Tivoli, New York
After studying painting at Boston University and at Yale, Brice Marden moved to New York in 1963. His monochrome paintings began the following year: long horizontal canvases and joined diptychs or triptychs, painted in a range of grays shading into green and blue. Their velvety surfaces are built up of many layers of oil paint mixed with wax. The monochromes increasingly took on the colors and characteristics of landscape during Marden’s sojourns in Greece, which began in the 1970s.
In 1983, after traveling in Asia, he embarked on a second major body of work, heavily influenced by traditional Asian calligraphy. These gestural paintings involve sinuous brushstrokes that wind across a white ground. Marden’s “glyphs” are inspired by Asian characters, but have no set meaning. Since 2000, he has combined calligraphy with vibrant monochromes in large-scale paintings.
Marden describes how to look at a painting
Artist Brice Marden on how to look at a painting:
I like to look at a painting from the distance — the same distance away from it as it is high. And then you double that distance, go back twice as far, and look at it from that distance. And then come in and look at it very, very close. And then go back and repeat. It’s like a little dance. This just helps you — you can take in all aspects of the painting. You can take in the shape, you can take in the color, you can take in the detail when you come up really close. But then when you get the long view on the painting, you get the whole painting. And then when you get a little bit closer, it’s still the whole painting, but the whole scale changes. So you’re getting a very complex reading of something that initially, might seem very simple. But it’s not simple, it’s a complex situation.
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