Professor Richard Shiff points out that drawings like this may look like sheets of solid black from a distance. But they are based on the grid, like all the drawings in this gallery.
RICHARD SHIFF: The grid has been pressed into the paper, usually by his using a very sharp pencil. So, it's in part a texture line as well as a drawn line.
This is a very dense, unusually dark, graphite and wax drawing, with ink as well. It's dated 1964 to '67, and you have to imagine Marden having it in the studio for a long period of time. The paper has really been stressed. You can see that in the surface.
You work the paper so much it starts falling apart.
The ink was added to make it blacker in places where I couldn’t get it black. The wax was added when the paper became so frayed that I had to like press it back down. And then, when I used the wax, I put the graphite over it.
RICHARD SHIFF: The surface is not entirely even, so it reflects light differently in different parts. And the addition of the wax means that the surface is both toned down, but it also gives it its own reflective quality. In all of Marden's drawings, we need to think about the play of light on the surface of the paper. The paper is given life by Marden's process of drawing.
And part of our interest in his drawings is to sense the fantastic variation that he achieves.