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Brice Marden: Red Yellow Blue

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This full color catalogue accompanied a 2013 exhibition of Marden’s early monochromatic paintings at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. This was the first time all four of his Red Yellow Blue paintings were shown together. Restraining the gestural intensity of Color Field painting through contemplative reserve and calm, these works belie a nuaned equilibrium between emotive passion and formal rigor. In each of these, Marden painted slabs of dense yet nuanced color on three adjoined canvas panels, using oil paint mixed on the spot with melted beeswax and turpentine and applied with a knife and spatula. The dull sheen of the encaustic medium intensifies the bold, contrasting color blocks, built up through the temperamental layering process that yielded such intricately worked surfaces. The spirited variations within each “primary” trio are rich with interpretative possibility, like musical chords improvised in major and minor keys.

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