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The Seasons

Brice Marden

The Seasons

Brice Marden
  • Date: 1974 - 1975
  • Style: Minimalism
  • Genre: abstract
  • Media: oil
  • Tag: monochrome
  • Dimensions: 243.8 x 632.5 cm

Oil and beeswax on canvas, four panels. The Seasons were began in New York in 1974, but completed in Houston, Texas, in the summer of 1975. Harris Rosenstein, director of the Institute for the Arts at Rice University in Houston at that time, asked Brice Marden and David Novros to create paintings to be installed with four paintings that Rothko did not include in the final Rothko Chapel installation. In response, Marden decided to base his work on the theme of the seasons, as "I had these paintings in mind for a long time. I was interested in enlivening the space in my paintings. Up to that point they were (independent) monochromatic panel paintings." His first step was to determine the size and the proportion of the four panels in a series of drawings made with consecutive layers of graphite and wax. "If I don't use the wax, I can't get this smooth graphite surface. You'd have a furry surface without the wax. So, this gives me a surface that I want. And in effect, it makes these paintings on paper because the wax acts as a binder and the graphite becomes a pigment." The finished, big-scale version of The Seasons consists of four vertical panels, each eight feet by five, installed with an interval of three inches between them. "The interval had to do with the overall size of the piece", explained Marden. The panels were separated as "in terms of subject matter, they're each unto themselves. Yet they had to be together. I really wanted The Seasons to be able to stand alone." A small version of The Seasons was created in the same time, as Marden made changes and corrections on it to act as a reference to the color adjustments in the larger panels. The Seasons, Marden's largest work until then, was exhibited, along with the small version, in the spring of 1975 at Rice's Institute for the Arts. But the artist did not consider it finished, so, after the exhibition, he reworked the series and added more layers of paint while changing the hue. "Color is really something trying to summarize a feeling about each season. If you took them out of context, you'd not get it... it's a thematic thing. (...) Color is a way of arriving at light." The Seasons is a demonstration of the artist's expression of feeling through the transformation of matter into light.

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