No Test


Brice Marden ( American, 1938 )

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General Description

Brice Marden's paintings demonstrate that abstract art, particularly what has been termed Minimalism, need not be coldly clinical nor removed from sensory pleasure. From the beginning of his career in the mid-1960s into the early 1980s, Marden used oil and wax as his painting medium, applying this mixture to simple vertical rectangles of canvas. Upon sustained scrutiny, these paintings resonate with an interior light and call to mind things far outside the realm of purely abstract form.

Rather than draw topography according to the traditional landscape genre, Marden recreates the experience of being in a landscape by setting similar yet distinct planes of color next to each other. As these colors interact, ocean, sky, and field begin to register in the viewer's eye and mind without ever appearing outright. In No Test, Marden creates, with a single panel, a field of seductively indeterminate color—it could be tan or brown, but it can never be pinned down. Related to a series of paintings that take their tones from the breathing warm presence of skin, No Test is further proof that Marden's paintings from the first part of his career, while remaining true to the tenets of abstract art, extend the realm of the abstract into the experience of everyday sensory life.

Excerpt from

Charles Wylie, "No Test," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 286.