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Brice Marden was born on October 15, 1938, in Bronxville, New York. He attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Yale University School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, receiving an MFA degree in 1963. While at Yale, he developed the formal strategies that would characterize his paintings of the following decades—a interest in rectangular formats and the repeated use of a muted, extremely individualized palette.
In 1963 Marden moved to New York, working as a guard at the Jewish Museum, where he encountered the work of Jasper Johns, which furthered his interest in gridded compositions. He made his first monochromatic single-panel painting in the winter of 1964. Marden spent the spring and summer of 1964 in Paris. His first solo show in New York was held at the Bykert Gallery in 1966, and in the fall of that year he became a general assistant to Robert Rauschenberg. In 1968 he began constructing paintings with multiple panels. From 1969 to 1974 he was a painting instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In 1972 his work was showcased at Documenta in Kassel, and a retrospective exhibition was presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1975. In 1977 Marden traveled to Rome and Pompeii, where he strengthened his interest in Roman and Greek art and architecture, which would influence his work of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the mid-1980s Marden turned away from Minimalism toward gestural abstraction. Around this time he traveled to Thailand, where he became interested in Asian calligraphy and the art of the brushstroke. Marden’s recent large-scale paintings continue to employ “glyphs” inspired by Asian characters. During the 1990s his work was the subject of two major traveling shows. In 2006 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a major retrospective of his paintings and drawings, which traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin the following year. Brice Marden died in Tivoli, New York, on August 9, 2023.