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Brice Marden's Red, Yellow, Blue paintings shown together for the first time at Gagosian
Brice Marden, Red, Yellow, Blue III, 1974. Oil and wax on canvas, 74 x 72 inches (188 x 182.9 cm). ©Brice Marden. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.
NEW YORK, NY.- Gagosian Gallery presents 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), 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 (where red can range from cadmium to almost black, yellow from ochre to saffron, and blue from cobalt to sullen indigo) are rich with interpretative possibility—like musical chords improvised 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).

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.
—Brice Marden





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