Brice Marden and Greek Antiquity | May 20-August 29, 2022

“If I make a painting in Greece, it looks like it was made in Greece […] The characteristics of the place just somehow get into the painting, or get into my painting, because I want it there […] If I’m in that place, I’m responding to that place.”
“I’m sure that if I wasn’t living in a city, I wouldn’t be using so much verticals and horizontals. But then, living in Greece, it’s the whole light. There’s a kind of clarity, plus it has pulled me closer to older art.” – Brice Marden

As part of the exhibition series “Divine Dialogues,” American artist Brice Marden presents his work in dialogue with selected antiquities from the Museum’s permanent collections, as well as three new works created especially for the exhibition. Titled Brice Marden and Greek Antiquity and organized by the Museum of Cycladic Art in close collaboration with the artist and the curator and artist Dimitrios Antonitsis, the exhibition will run from May 20 to August 29, 2022.

This is the first museum exhibition devoted to this renowned artist to be held in Greece. It features 44 drawings, paintings, marble paintings and notebooks that showcase a wide range of his artistic output, revealing his keen eye, abstract gaze and resonance with the metaphysics of ancient Greek heritage. His works are presented in dialogue with 16 antiquities selected by the curator in liaison with the artist.

In a career spanning six decades, Marden continues to fascinate viewers with the gestural simplicity of his paintings and drawings. His work draws from art’s long history, combining elements of Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, as well as ancient calligraphy and poetry. For more than fifty years, the artist has drawn inspiration from the Greek landscape and antiquity. His relationship with Greece dates back to 1971 when he first traveled to Hydra with his wife Helen, also a painter. Enchanted by the  light and transformed by the “art of older civilizations”, they bought a house there two years later. They have since spent a portion of almost every summer there together. The purity of Hydra’s landscape deeply affected Marden, who draws inspiration from observing nature.

The 16 antiquities on display alongside Marden’s works were selected by the curator, in collaboration with the artist, from the Museum’s collections of Cycladic, Cypriot and ancient Greek art. Intended for daily, ritual or funerary use, these clay, marble and gold items span from the late 4th millennium BC to Byzantine times.

Exhibition curator Dimitrios Antonitsis notes:

"I focused on tuning in to this  esoteric game that Marden has set up, fifty years now, on Hydra. My litmus test for selecting these antiquities was for them to serve Marden’s balance act regarding surface, drawing and light. I am convinced that the ancient craftsmen of the exhibited art objects were in touch with the invisible and the transcendental – which is precisely how Marden works too: by creating a syntax of thought forms through astute observation and painting.  

Visitors should experience this exhibition as a continuum across ancient Greece and minimalism. Even nowadays, in a cupboard in the artist's home on Hydra, one can find groups of postcards of ancient Greek sculpture – their paper now faded and yellow with age – with captions in archaic language. In this exhibition I attempted to reverse the terms of the ‘cupboard’ in which Marden’s ancient Greek references are stored: The Stathatos Mansion becomes a ‘cabinet’ in which the works of the greatest minimalist alive are lovingly displayed.”

Exhibition Sections

Brice Marden was born in 1938 in Bronxville, New York, and lives and works in New York.

His work is included in the collections of museums worldwide including Tate, London; Kunstmuseum Basel; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Saint Louis Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa.

Notable exhibitions include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1975); Paintings, Drawings, Etchings 1975–80, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1981, traveled to Whitechapel Art Gallery, London); Cold Mountain, Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1991, traveled to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Menil Collection, Houston; and Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany); A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006–07, traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Hamburger Bahnhof–Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin); Morocco, Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech, Morocco (2019); Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings, Menil Collection, Houston (2020); and Brice Marden. Inner Space, Kunstmuseum Basel (2022).

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