Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings


Brice Marden. D'après la Marquise de la Solana. 1969

(American, born 1938) Oil and beeswax on canvas, three panels. Three panels, each 77 5/8 x 39 1/8" (197.2 x 99.4 cm); overall 77 5/8 x 117 3/8" (196 x 297 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Panza Collection, 1991 Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

This three-panel picture was inspired by La Marquise de la Solana, a famous painting by Goya in the Louvre.

BRICE MARDEN: I was really quite taken with this Goya painting, and I spent a lot of time looking at it. And it seems to be a very straightforward portrait of a rather haughty woman. She is standing on a hill, and the landscape disappears down behind her and emphasizes her haughtiness. And yet at the same time, she’s got this huge ridiculous pink bow in her hair, and I just loved the way that pink used to stand out. You don’t try to match the pink. You start with a kind of idea, and then it sets up a situation which is your job to resolve.

GARY GARRELS: But then what influences your thinking about what direction those colors go in?

BRICE MARDEN: You’ve got this big panel of pink, and you want it to hold the surface. And so what do you do to the other colors to make that work? And as you make the adjustment to the other colors, you have to go back and adjust the original color. So there’s all this adjusting, and it’s all really felt out intuitively. As soon as you start having rules, that’s how you get academic. So you avoid situations where you work by rules, although one of the rules was to be intuitive. (Laughs)

GARY GARRELS: And the relationship between the colors is an attempt to find an equilibrium.

BRICE MARDEN: Yes. But it’s not a standard equilibrium. You’re looking for your own equilibrium, and one of my beliefs as a painter is that the painting is but a sounding board for the spirit. Let it resonate. It’s complicated, and it’s very, very simple.

To hear about Marden’s painstaking process in making these paintings, step over to look at the work immediately to the right. Then press 6231.

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