New York

Brice Marden

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

HOW CAN AN ARTIST keep high modernism alive when rumors of its death abound? This is the question Brice Marden repeatedly confronts throughout the Museum of Modern Art’s majestic retrospective, organized by Gary Garrels. From the show’s first galleries on the building’s sixth floor (mostly devoted to paintings) to the works on paper three levels below, Marden’s answers mix pictorial dexterity and doggedness—cool yet assertive responses to a constant challenge.

Starting in the early 1960s with canvases and drawings that exemplify the lessons of less, the selection ends with two extended compositions—veritable grandes machines in scale and ambition—so recent their paint is barely dry. These foil the initial sparseness with a late abundance that is almost baroque in its serpentine rhythms. Encompassing extremes of reduction and elaboration, Marden has retained a canny knack for infiltrating

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