Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings is an exploration of the artist’s draftsmanship and the catalytic role the medium plays within his practice. In a 1979 written statement, Marden asked that his drawings be thought of “as spaces.” This comment suggests, for him, drawing is a medium that not only exists in more than two dimensions, but also is capable of reflecting the spirit and experience of a particular place. As seen throughout his work, Marden’s expansive vision explores how landscape, architecture, and objects found in nature shape one’s way of understanding the world.
This exhibition presents six series of drawings that span nearly the entirety of Marden’s ongoing career, highlighting the processes of invention and permutation that occur as he works and thinks on paper. One series—composed of twelve works with dense layers of pigmentation—revisits geographies and methods crucial to his early work, namely the architectural forms of ancient Greece and the heavily worked and opaque surfaces made of wax and graphite that first brought him to prominence. Additionally, the presentation maps how the artist’s two watershed series, The Seasons and Cold Mountain, have reverbereated within his practice and have evolved over decades. Drawing as a means of study, a quality that runs throughout his oeuvre, is particularly apparent in his examinations of proportion and ratio as well as in works taken from sketchbooks that Marden completed while traveling.
Brice Marden was born in Bronxville, New York, in 1938. Gaining distinction in the late 1960s, Marden’s work continues to chart a course involving systematic investigations of color, abstract and intuitive gestures, and the studied imprecision of calligraphic line. The subject of numerous exhibitions around the world, Marden has had three important shows in Houston: Brice Marden: Drawings, 1963–73 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 1974; Marden, Novros, Rothko: Painting in the Age of Actuality at the Rice Institute for the Arts in 1975; and Brice Marden: Cold Mountain at the Menil Collection in 1992–93. This presentation is organized by Kelly Montana, Assistant Curator, the Menil Drawing Institute.
Major funding for this exhibition is provided by Janie C. Lee. Additional support comes from Diane and Michael Cannon; Julie and John Cogan, Jr.; Carol and David Neuberger; Eddie and Chinhui Allen; Clare Casademont and Michael Metz; Barbara and Michael Gamson; Diana and Russell Hawkins; Janet and Paul Hobby; Linda and George Kelly; Susan and Francois de Menil; Susanne and William E. Pritchard III; Leslie and Shannon Sasser; Bill Stewart; Taub Foundation/Marcy Taub Wesel; Michael Zilkha; and The City of Houston.