“It’s hard to look at paintings. You have to be able to bring all sorts of things together in your mind, your imagination, in your whole body.”
Brice Marden is among the most esteemed American artists working today. He is best known for his linear abstractions and early monochromes. In his work Marden draws on a range of influences, including Abstract Expressionism and Eastern culture, and Asian calligraphy in particular.
The present large-scale oil on canvas comes from The Attended series. Taking into account Marden’s fascination with the East, the title is likely a reference to the Chinese clay figures traditionally placed in tombs to accompany and protect the dead on their journey to the afterlife. (Think of Emperor Qin’s the terracotta army and its 8,000 soldiers)
Set against the grey background bold, yet delicate serpentine lines of white, green, yellow, and red weave throughout the composition. On the top and on the bottom the lines meet and align along the edge framing the exterior. As your eye traverses the composition, pay attention to the hierarchy Marden ascribed to the colors: green over white, yellow over green, red over yellow.
“An exquisite interplay of simplicity and complexity, clarity and mystery, The Attended embodies Marden’s deep affinity for drawing as the wellspring of creative endeavor. Jackson Pollock is often cited as an inspiration for Marden’s all-over compositions, both in his monochromatic panel paintings and in his linear abstractions, and Pollock’s famous melding of “drawing into painting” is clearly relevant to the paintings of the 1990s…”*
Enjoy the atmospheric and hypnotizing beauty of the pure abstraction. “Just relax and let go,” suggests Brice Marden to people who experience difficulty when confronted by nonrepresentational art. You can also try to examine the underlying configuration of lines. What do you see?
Brice Marden is among the most commercially successful artists in the United States. The Attended was sold for $10.9 million at Sotheby’s in November 2013.
Image courtesy Sotheby’s. Artwork ©Brice Marden. This article ©galleryIntell