Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings


Brice Marden. The Dylan Painting. 1966/1986

(American, born 1938) Oil and beeswax on canvas, 60 x 120" (152.4 x 304.8 cm). San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Helen Crocker Russell Fund purchase and gift of Mrs. Helen Portugal Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

GLENN LOWRY: A number of paintings in this gallery were done at the same time.

BRICE MARDEN: I tend to work in groups. Nebraska on the wall on the left was a landscape coloration. The Dylan Painting, that was just neutral and much more abstract. I just wanted to make a painting for Bob Dylan, so that people knew who Bob Dylan was, but by the time I got around to making the painting, he was quite well known.

GLENN LOWRY: Gary Garrels:

GARY GARRELS: What was the attraction to gray at this period?

BRICE MARDEN: When I thought I would start narrowing in on color, I just started it by just eliminating it. And these paintings weren’t blacks mixed with whites. They were umbers mixed with blues -- they were complex greys. I wanted it so that it would be a bit of a surprise every time you came back to look at it. And I also thought ambiguity was one of the key tools that the Abstract Expressionists used, and I figured I was still using it.

GARY GARRELS: From a distance the paintings appear to be fairly monochromatic, with a very flat surface. But the closer you get, the more you see. You begin to get some sense that there are multiple coats of paint and that there’s a lot of texture, a lot of surface incident.

BRICE MARDEN: By adding beeswax to the paint, it made a matte surface. It’s a sort of softer, undeclarative surface, and so it creates a different effect with the color.

There was an area across the bottom. It was marked off at the beginning, and I would paint down to that line and then leave everything under that untouched. So there’s this accumulation of drips which to me read basically as a history of the painting, and also showed that it was definitely a hand-made painting.

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