Brice Marden - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Saturday, May 7, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Brice Marden’s ‘Star (for Patti Smith)’: Aura in the Abstract

    In the early 1970’s, Brice Marden was exploring the idea of how to make an abstract picture convey significant amounts of emotion and feeling. Introduced to Patti Smith as part of the vibrant downtown New York scene that came to define an entire era, the portrait ‘Star’ aimed to capture some of the energy and fearlessness that Patti herself had set in motion through her music and poetry.

  • Provenance

    Collection of the artist
    Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Bykert Gallery, Brice Marden, February 5 - March 1, 1972
    Berkeley, University of California, University Art Museum, Eight New York Painters, May 10 - June 25, 1972
    New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, Options and Alternatives: Some Directions in Recent Art, April 4 - May 16, 1974, no. 9 (illustrated)
    Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria; Sydney, Art Gallery of South Wales; Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia; Perth, West Australia Art Gallery; City of Auckland Art Gallery, Some Recent American Art, February 12 - November 17, 1974, cat. no. 32, pp. 49-50 (illustrated)
    New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Brice Marden, March 7 - May 4, 1975, cat. no. 19, p. 44 (illustrated)
    Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Newport Beach, Newport Harbor Art Museum; Oakland, The Oakland Museum; Cincinnati, Cincinnati Art Museum; Champaign, University of Illinois, Krannert Art Museum, American Painting of the 1970s, December 8, 1978 - January 2, 1980, p. 40 (illustrated)
    New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, 20 Artists: Yale School of Art 1950 - 1979, January 29 - March 29, 1981, p. 50 (illustrated)
    Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Connections: Brice Marden, March 23 - July 21, 1991, cat. no. 31, pp. 7, 29, 34 (illustrated)
    New York, C & M Arts, Brice Marden: Classic Paintings, March 30 - May 29, 1999, cat. no. 7, n.p. (illustrated)
    Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Brice Marden: Work Books and Series, October 3, 1999 - January 2, 2000
    Zurich, Daros Exhibitions, Brice Marden, June 14, 2003 - January 4, 2004, cat. no. 6 (illustrated)
    New York, Museum of Modern Art, Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings, October 29, 2006 - January 15, 2007, cat. no. 37, p. 168 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Carter Ratcliff, "New York Letter," Art International, April 20, 1972, p. 31 (illustrated)
    Lucio Pozzi, "Colore e superficie," DATA, Winter 1973, p. 90 (illustrated)
    Michel Bourel and Sylvie Couderc, "Brice Marden," in Art Minimal II: De la Surface au Plan, exh. cat., Bordeaux: CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain, 1986, p. 70
    Charles Mortiz, ed., "Brice Marden," Biography, August 1990, p. 43
    Michael Kimmelman, "Brice Marden Reveals His Connections," New York Times, April 14, 1991, p. 35
    Paul Taylor, "Marden's Metamorphosis," Connoisseur, October 1991, p. 108
    Klaus Kertess, Brice Marden Drawings and Paintings, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1992, p. 83 (illustrated)
    John Richardson, "Brice Marden's Abstract Heart," Vanity Fair, May 1999, p. 201
    Mick Brown, "Driven to Abstraction," Daily Telegraph, October 28, 2000, sec. A, pp. 1, 11

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The artist is the necromancer, the priest; he does not make something interesting, he makes some thing, a fact, a painting, Art.” Brice Marden, January 1973

    Brice Marden’s Star (for Patti Smith), 1972-74, is an elegant and luminous portrait of the artist’s close friend and rock star Patti Smith. The painting stands as one of the artist’s celebrated abstract “portraits,” many of which are held in important institutions' collections including For Carl Andre, 1966 in the Collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and The Dylan Painting, 1966-86 in the Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    Rendered in minimalist subdued tones, Star (for Patti Smith) honors the musician and writer whose musical and poetic output drew on the influences of The Velvet Underground and The Doors, along with French symbolist and Beat strains of introspective and sensual poetry. Marden’s succinct rendering of the artist in his own minimalist language, “evokes an exciting and intensely creative moment in New York’s cultural history,” art historian Eileen Costello explains, describing Star (for Patti Smith) as one of Marden’s most celebrated portraits. “In the 70’s, the city might have been dirty, dangerous and destitute, but downtown had a passionately experimental and vital art scene. When Marden met Smith, she was a waif poet who used to come to his studio to use his typewriter – an Olivetti – because she thought it improved the quality of the rock criticism she was writing for Creem and Rolling Stone.” (Eileen Costello, Brice Marden, London: Phaidon Press, 2013, p. 56.)

    Seeking to distill Smith’s own stark and direct writing style, which would come to define her as the reigning “punk poet laureate” of the downtown art scene, Marden conceived a composition of three vertical stripes. Each separate panel precisely measures Smith’s height and shoulder-width. Indeed, in Star (for Patti Smith) the physical proportions of the individual are mapped like a grid onto the abstracted portrait, at once retaining and vacating the human presence from the elemental, geometric components of the painting. The lustrously soft, yet dynamic surface of the work was created through successive layers of oil paint, melted beeswax and turpentine. This encaustic medium, once manipulated by the deft touches of Marden’s palette knife, yielded a sculptural nuance to the surface of the work. This, in tandem with the matte-ness of the material, creates a surface tension that encourages the eye to actively traverse the expanse of work, probing the paradoxical depth and flatness that Marden’s composition presents. The beeswax acts as a coating sealant, joining the individual three colored panels into a singular composition.

    Executed over a two year span, Marden first exhibited his portrait of Smith at his solo show at Bykert Gallery, New York in February 1972. The work was exhibited with the third panel in what the artist described as “buttery yellow.” Marden subsequently re-visited his composition and re-imaged the portrait as two matte midnight black bands which frame his luminous gray “figure” of Smith. As Marden explains in his statement and proposal for Star (for Patti Smith) at the time, “Now I plan to work two blacks, warm and cool, against a strong value change to the white-grey flesh, but to keep the flesh strong as color to make the whole strong color. I will think about Zurbaran monk paintings as I work on it, but not in terms of a superficial color resemblance. I want the plane to have that fanatic Zurbaran intensity.” (Brice Marden, Statement and Proposal: Star (for Patti Smith), January 1973) His ultimate composition perfectly distills the cool reticence and the convention-breaking energy of Smith’s personality and artistry. The adherence to a minimal language of form veils, according to the artist, a deep subjective response to Smith’s star quality and her immediate human presence. “My idea for Star was to make a portrait, not a picture of a person. I hoped to embody a spirit.”(Brice Marden, Statement and Proposal: Star (for Patti Smith), 1973)

  • Artist Biography

    Brice Marden

    American • 1938 - N/A

    Born in Bronxville and working between New York City, Tivoli, New York, and Hydra, Greece, Brice Marden developed a unique style that departs from his Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist contemporaries. Drawing from his personal experiences and global travels, Marden’s works demonstrate a gestural and organic emotion channeled through the power of color. By the late 1960s, Marden received international recognition as the master of the monochrome panel and, in the late 1970s, began exploring the relationship between horizontal and vertical planes. His practice is deeply informed by his knowledge of classical architecture, world religion, ancient history, and spirituality. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998, Marden is represented in notable institutional collections including the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

    View More Works

Property from a Private Collection

Ο ◆17

Star (for Patti Smith)

oil and beeswax on canvas, triptych
68 x 45 in. (172.7 x 114.3 cm)
Titled and dated "STAR (FOR PATTI SMITH) 1972-73" on the reverse of each panel; further signed "B. Marden" on the reverse of the center panel.

$5,000,000 - 7,000,000 

Sold for $5,989,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 May 2016