Red, Yellow, Blue
I paint paintings made up of one, two, or three panels. I work from panel to panel. I will paint on one until I arrive at a color that holds that plane. I move to another panel and paint until something is holding that plane that also interestingly relates to the other panels. I work the third, searching for a color value that pulls the planes together into a plane that has aesthetic meaning.
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present Brice Marden's Red, Yellow, Blue paintings. This is the first time that all four paintings comprising the historic group have been shown together, with loans from MOCA, Los Angeles, The Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, and private collections in the U.S. Fourth Figure (1973-74), a related painting that treats the chromatic primaries as a composition of three horizontal bands, will also be on view.
Marden's early monochromatic paintings exist as single panels, diptychs and triptychs. Restraining the gestural intensity of Color Field painting through contemplative reserve and calm, their inscrutable surfaces belie a nuanced equilibrium between emotive passion and formal rigor.
In each of the Red, Yellow, Blue paintings (1974), similarly calibrated slabs of saturated color are rendered on three adjoined canvas panels, using a mixture of oil paint and melted beeswax applied in smooth coats with a knife and spatula. The dull sheen of the densely worked surface intensifies the bold contrasting color blocks, built up through the intricate layering process. The spirited variations within each primary trio (where red can range from cadmium to almost black, or blue from azure to indigo) are rich with interpretative possibility, like musical chords in major and minor keys.
Brice Marden was born in 1938 in Bronxville, New York. He studied at Boston University School of Fine Arts and the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including "Brice Marden: Cold Mountain", Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1991, traveled to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Menil Collection, Houston; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany); "Work Books 1964-1995," Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich (1997, traveled to Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Miami Art Museum; and The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh); and "Brice Marden: Plane Image, A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings," The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006, traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin).
Marden lives and works in New York.