Brice Marden exhibition opens at inde/jacobs gallery

Brice Marden, “Etching for Rexroth #8,” 1986.

MARFA — The exhibit Brice Marden – Etchings opens Thursday, October 5, at the inde/jacobs gallery, 208 East San Antonio Street. This rare opportunity to view Marden’s exceptional prints includes 15 etchings from the artist’s period of gestural abstraction.

Born in Bronxville, New York, in 1938, Marden received an M.F.A from Yale University’s School of Art in 1963. For the next several decades he painted monochromatic works. Then he discovered Far Eastern calligraphy and created abstract glyphs in his paintings and drawings, and in the 1980s shifted radically towards gestural abstraction. This shift is evident in Marden’s prints. 

The artist considered his drawings and etchings to be equally important to his paintings. They were similar but differed because of the medium –– ink being more fluid than paint.

For the drawings, Marden used long branches and sticks dipped in ink. This method precluded full control of the application of ink so there would be pooling, interrupted lines caused by the bouncing of the stick, or scattered marks. The result was exceptional, organic and spontaneous work. Thus, Marden created a new visual language by interpreting calligraphy. 

Sometimes Marden’s paintings and drawings mirrored the vertical couplets of Chinese poems. But often, loops and swirls became webs of overlapping and intersecting lines depicting space without visual references.

By contrast, for etchings, which are printed editions, Marden dipped branches not into ink, but a chemical solvent that etched the copper plate used in the printing process. The spontaneity of the process mirrored his drawings. No artist had yet succeeded in creating prints with such staccato energy. Prints are important because collectors would find them to be affordable.

The primary source of the exhibit’s work is Marden’s 1986 series called the “Etchings to Rexroth.” The poet Kenneth Rexroth, a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, had translated early Chinese poets, including Han Shan and Tu Fu of the eighth and ninth centuries. Marden stressed that his etchings were not illustrations relating to the poems, but rather abstractions of the calligraphic presentation. 

This is gallery director’s Vilis Inde’s 19th exhibit for Chinati Weekend. His goal is to provide an exceptional exhibit for the gallery’s last Chinati Weekend and final exhibit. Brice Marden – Etchings is free and open to all for viewing from Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery shares a space with The Marfa Store.