Brice Marden - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Thursday, November 18, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Though Brice Marden is renowned as one of the leading voices of his generation, the critical role of drawing in his distinctive approach is often overlooked. Carol Vogel elucidated in her profile of the artist in The New York Times that Marden’s “drawings have long been a critical first step to what eventually ends up on the canvas.” “I always have a notebook going so I’m not scared to death when I start painting,” Marden expressed to Vogel.i


    Two exceptional ink on paper works, Letter of Gratitude #8, 2007, and Study for Cold Mountain 3, 1992, provide an intimate look into Marden’s process: they are reminders that though he utilizes drawing as a determinative, preliminary step, he also views them as fully realized works in their own right. Study for Cold Mountain 3 belongs to Marden’s Cold Mountain series, which he began in the late 1980s and was preoccupied with well into the early years of the 1990s. Perhaps his most famous body of work, this pivotal chapter in the artist’s oeuvre was inspired by the 8th-century Chinese calligrapher and celebrated poet Han Shan, known as “Cold Mountain.” Marden rendered these works in the same way Chinese is written—from right to left and top to bottom—and that schematic organizing principle is visible in the grid-like dots of Study for Cold Mountain 3 that underpin the layered triangles of the final painting, which is held in the permanent collection of the Dia Art Foundation.

    "I always have a notebook going so I’m not scared to death when I start painting."
    —Brice Marden 

    Though it was executed 15 years later, the visual affinities that Letter of Gratitude #8 share with Study for Cold Mountain 3 are immediately conspicuous. From Marden’s largest series since the Cold Mountain works, Letter of Gratitude #8 was inspired by a specific piece of Chinese calligraphy dating from the Sung dynasty that he encountered at the National Palace Museum of Taipei in 2006. The work features his signature interlocking, columnal loops and reflects the artist’s experiments with line and gesture, his automotive pen on paper. Though these two superb works differ stylistically, they both betray Marden’s inimitable hand—one that may appear to be as ruled by chance as Surrealist automatic drawings, but is actually methodical, precise, and intuitive.

    i Carol Vogel, “Brice Marden, Still True to His Vision,” The New York Times, March 19, 2019, online.

    • Provenance

      Gifted by the artist to the present owner in October 2008

    • Literature

      Brice Marden: Letters, exh. cat., Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, 2010, p. 19 (illustrated)

    • 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.

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Property from a Distinguished Curator’s Collection


Letter of Gratitude #8

signed and dated "Marden 07" lower center; inscribed "8" lower right; inscribed "#8" on the reverse
Kremer ink on Rives BFK paper
11 1/4 x 15 in. (28.6 x 38.1 cm)
Executed in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session, New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 18 November 2021