Brice Marden at MoMA: a flash in the flesh

Went to catch the Brice Marden exhibit at MoMA Monday, at its tail-end. A gorgeous and revelatory show; and it was fun to share it with someone who didn't mind me prattling on about Marden this and Marden that...thanks Justin.
And the added bonus, in the drawings gallery? We saw Brice Marden himself, obviously taking advantage of the last day of a group of work that he may never see together again, while he's alive. I whispered to Justin that I thought that "that guy" really looked like Brice Marden, and then proceeded to feign admiring the same piece he was talking about, with a young woman, to try and catch some clues. And then this guy who looked like he could have been a mix between Warhol and John Adams (the American composer) came up and asked him to sign his monograph...AHA! They snuck out the back door so as not to attract more attention.
What follows are a few random thoughts on his work, precipitated by conversation between Justin and I. The work was arranged more-or-less chronologically.
Something which became evident as we moved from the more "color-field" work of the 1960's into the heavily calligraphic, was that his "record of marks," so important to the feel and composition of the more minimal paintings, at the bottom of the canvases; suddenly moved from there, to being essentially seeded all over the painting; dispersed over the entire canvas.This seemed to signify a move from the paintings being primarily experiential (especially colors), to being more referential (though still entirely abstract).

(above, Cold Mountain Painting, 1989-91) courtesy: see above link
Additionally, as the lines became more and more autonomous (less connected to literal calligraphy) they evoked the feeling of being root-bound; much the way an over-fertilized plant looks when freed from the pot. The feeling of being bound by specific boundaries and edges is no mistake in reading these paintings, I think.

Something else I'd not noticed before seeing so many mid-career paintings in person, was how often his colors were some version, however analogous or muted, of the primary colors. Some, for instance, looked like a group of greens or grays, but upon closer inspection, one went solidly towards blue; this one, towards a yellow, and another, towards some type of red.

All in all, a wonderful show, capped of course, by seeing the master himself...waiting in the wings, as it were, for a quiet induction into fame. And then all of a sudden, he ducked into a hallway; out of sight.

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