new-york

Brice Marden

Matthew Marks Gallery

Ever since I saw my first Brice Marden show, in Houston in 1991, I have been trying to figure out why I don’t like his paintings more. They are well made and worked out over time, they develop a set of personal concerns and preferences, and they’re often beautiful—many of the things I look for in art. His pair of spring shows, his first in New York in five years, provided an occasion to think about what is going on in his work The exhibitions, at Marks’s two Chelsea venues, encompassed a selection of his work from 1996–2002 and his most recent paintings.

My problem with Marden isn’t necessarily the same one that other people have. While critics who are roughly his contemporaries rave about these paintings, praising them for their beauty, skill, and subtlety, younger viewers and artists are much more likely to see the work as conventional, blue-chip bohemianism: Marden’s paintings, in

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