Brice Marden seminal American artist known for his significant contributions to abstract painting and his unique exploration of colour, form, and surface, has died aged 84. Born on October 15, 1938, in Bronxville, New York, Marden’s artistic journey encompassed various styles and techniques that have left an indelible mark on contemporary art.
Marden’s early interest in art led him to study at the Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, where he honed his skills and developed a passion for abstract expressionism. He also studied at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, where he was influenced by teachers such as Alex Katz and Jack Tworkov. His 60-year career kicked off in 1963
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
In his early career, Marden’s work exhibited abstract expressionist characteristics with its gestural brushwork and an emphasis on emotional expression. However, as his artistic voice matured, he moved away from this style and embarked on a journey towards a more minimalist and restrained approach.
By the 1960s and 1970s, Marden had evolved his signature style, which often featured monochromatic or limited colour palettes and focused on geometric forms. He became associated with the Minimalist movement, although his work retained a distinct sense of touch and humanity that set it apart from the strictly geometric work of some of his contemporaries.
One of Marden’s most renowned bodies of work is his “Cold Mountain” series, which he began in the late 1980s and continued into the 1990s. These paintings were inspired by the writings of the Chinese poet Han Shan, and they feature layered, calligraphy-like marks that evoke a sense of meditation and contemplation. The “Cold Mountain” series is celebrated for synthesising Eastern and Western artistic traditions.
Throughout his career, Brice Marden had exhibited extensively in major art institutions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at renowned museums including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Marden exhibited at Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972, had a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1975 and showed at the 1997 Venice Biennale. His work has been collected by numerous museums, galleries, and private collectors, solidifying his status as a prominent figure in the art world.
Marden’s artistic process often involved a deep engagement with materials, colour mixing, and layering. His works are a fusion of abstraction and personal expression, inviting viewers to contemplate the subtleties of form and colour within each canvas.
Over the years, Brice Marden’s art has continued to evolve, incorporating new influences and techniques while maintaining his dedication to abstraction and exploration. His legacy as an artist has impacted contemporary art, inspiring generations of artists to push the boundaries of form, colour, and expression.
His daughter announced the news on Instagram, saying, “Dad died peacefully last night at home.” His Gallery, Gagosian, also announced the artist’s death on their website.
Top Photo: Brice Marden in his studio, Tivoli, New York, June 2017. Photo: Eric Piasecki Courtesy Gagosian Gallery