Brice Marden, Who Rejuvenated Painting in the 1960s, Dies at 84

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Richard Marden, a renowned American artist known for his abstract paintings, passed away at the age of 83 in his home in Tivoli, NY. He was born in 1938 in Bronxville, NY, and began his artistic journey while attending Yale University. It was during his time at Yale’s summer school in Norfolk, Conn., that Marden delved into abstract painting, continuing his exploration at the Yale University School of Art.

During his time at Yale, Marden developed a passion for using a muted color palette and embracing the rectangle as his preferred shape. At a time when many artists, including Frank Stella, were experimenting with shaped canvases, Marden chose to stay loyal to the rectangle. Explaining his approach to Harry Cooper, a curator at the National Gallery of Art, Marden spoke of his fascination with finding the perfect color for a specific shape and the endless possibilities that could arise from achieving such perfection.

After obtaining his master’s degree in fine arts in 1963, Marden relocated to New York, where he immersed himself in the city’s vibrant art scene. He started working at Chiron Press, a silk-screen printing shop, where he contributed to the creation of the iconic “Love” poster by Robert Indiana. Additionally, Marden took up a position as a guard at the Jewish Museum, an experience that greatly influenced his concepts of touch, surface, and abstraction. Later, he had the opportunity to work closely with renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg as his studio assistant.

In 1964, Marden’s first monochromatic panels were exhibited at Swarthmore College and later at the Bykert Gallery. These exhibitions were significant, as they challenged the prevailing belief at the time that painting was a dying art form. Marden saw them as an opportunity to showcase the unexplored possibilities within painting.

Throughout his career, Marden’s titles for his artworks often referenced people, places, or events beyond the frame of the paintings. This choice added a layer of depth and meaning to his already thought-provoking pieces.

Outside of his artistic pursuits, Marden was married twice. His first marriage was to Pauline Baez, the older sister of famous singer Joan Baez, while his second marriage was to Helen Marden. He is survived by his son, Nicholas, from his first marriage, as well as his two daughters, Mirabelle and Melia Marden, from his second marriage. Additionally, he leaves behind a younger sister, Mary Carroll Marden, and two beloved grandchildren. Sadly, his brother Michael passed away in 2010.

Richard Marden’s artistic legacy is one that significantly contributed to the world of abstract painting. His dedication to exploring the possibilities of color, shape, and form will continue to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts for generations to come.

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