Brice Marden - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 17, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Works on paper by Minimalist master Brice Marden offer a unique look into the artist’s interests and inspirations throughout his career, distinct within his oeuvre of paintings. The following two lots are from two very different points in Marden’s practice, the first from 1986 and the second from 2000, yet both are similar in their gestural lines and abstraction of form.

    Work Book 30 (6), lot 153, bears resemblance to the artist’s “St. Barts” series of drawings done between the years of 1985 and 1986, which were inspired by the artist’s growing interest in both Chinese calligraphy and also his natural surroundings. It was around this time that Marden visited Southeast Asia and became exposed to both of these sources of inspiration, hoping to transform his quintessential style and move away from his monochromatic panels into a different form of expression. The title of the work refers to Marden’s “workbooks”, which he always took on his travels, using them to record ideas and images for future reference. In this way, Workbook 30 (6) is a true look into Marden’s thought process and inner emotion, similar to a diary entry, and we can assume that it reveals a bit about Marden’s reaction to the parts of the world he bore witness to in this period of his career. Horizontally oriented, Work Book 30 (6) illustrates Marden’s hand through uninterrupted strokes of ink, thicker in some places and hairline-thin in others. As Mario Codognato described in his discussion of Marden’s works on paper from this year, the gestural characters in his drawings from the 1980s are “suspended in the balance between improvisation and control”, (Brice Marden: Works on Paper 1964-2001, exh. cat., Istituto nazionale per la grafica, Calcografia, Rome, 2002, exh. cat., p. 17) oscillating between studies and finished works.

    Both Work Book 30 (6) and Rock, lot 152, from over a decade later, are unique to Marden’s gestural works in that the line work in each of them is beautifully varied and subtly sparse. In many of the artist’s colorful paintings of the late 80s and 90s and other works on paper, Marden’s lines cover the canvas or sheet, filling up the entire picture plane, while still not moving outside of its boundaries. In each of these drawings, however, the picture planes are more thinly populated, allowing for an intimate look at the strokes made with Marden’s instrument. In its title, Rock directly exposes the artist’s interest in nature, yet in its abstract illustration, it showcases the creative liberties he takes in recording these subjects. With thicker ink markings, Rock bears the same resemblance and appreciation for calligraphic styles, almost 15 years after his earlier 1980s drawings.

    Of the drawing medium, Marden has reflected, “…for me, drawing’s an intimate medium. It’s very direct, it’s very close. There’s less between the artist and the art. There is real closeness, direct contact. A painting is about refinement of image. And drawing isn’t. I don’t think drawing is less than painting… The less you have between you and what you’re making the better. The best drawing instruments are the ones where your hand is. When the hand moves with the least resistance. In a way, a pencil is much less resistant than a brush” (Brice Marden, quoted in an interview by Pat Steir, Brice Marden: Recent Drawings and Etchings, exh. cat., Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, 1991). The present two lots demonstrate the artist’s appreciation for the drawing medium, highlighting the exact closeness that the artist refers to in this statement.

  • 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


Work Book 30 (6)

signed and dated "B. Marden 86" lower right
ink on paper
19 1/2 x 29 1/4 in. (49.5 x 74.3 cm.)
Executed in 1986.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016