Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings


Brice Marden. Thira. 1979-80

(American, born 1938) Oil and beeswax on canvas, eighteen panels assembled in three parts, overall 96 x 180" (243.8 x 457.2 cm). Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de création industrielle. Donation of the Georges Pompidou Art and Culture Foundation, 1983 (in honor of Pontus Hulten.) Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

GARY GARRELS: Thira, I believe, is the most complicated painting you’ve made in terms of the number of panels and the complexity of color relationships within a single painting.


I had been working with ideas of opposites, complements. And I tried to put all that together in this painting. So the left side should be really reading as the opposite of the right side, and the center configurations would be some sort of transitional aspect. I like this kind of complexity.

GARY GARRELS: So this painting is called Thira, the Greek word for door. A door can interrupt the plane, and in this painting the cool and the warm colors begin a situation of receding or pushing forward. And yet I believe that your idea is to lock them together, so that they retain again this idea of an equilibrium, that that’s the ideal in the painting, that there’s a perfect point of balance.

BRICE MARDEN: I like to keep coming back to the fact that it’s a two-dimensional surface, and yet at the same time I like to put as much on that two-dimensional surface as to make it a complicated experience to look at it.

 Marden has always been fascinated by the complex relationship of the image an artist creates, and the flat surface, or plane, he creates it on. He even calls his studio Plane Image. To hear him explain the idea as you look around this gallery, press 6261.

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