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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection

The Attended

The Attended
signed and dated '1996-9 B. Marden' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
82 x 57 in. (208.3 x 144.8 cm.)
Painted in 1996-1999
The artist.
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
Private collection, Connecticut (acquired from the above, 2007).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 13 November 2013, lot 12 (world auction record for the artist at the time of sale).
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
D. Kietsch, "Forward Motion" in South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 19 December 1999, sec. D, p. 10.
M. Brown, "Driven to Abstraction" in The Daily Telegraph, 28 October 2000, sec. A, p. 11.
R. Dorment, "One Look and You Feel You Could Look Forever" in The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2000, p. 26.
Post Magazine, 16 November 2000 (illustrated).
S. Hemming, "Brice Marden, Serpentine Gallery" in Daily Express, 17 November 2000 (illustrated).
L. Cumming, "The Brice is Right: After a 20-Year Gap, Brice Marden's Abstracts Go on Display in London. About time" in The Observer, 19 November 2000, p. 10 (illustrated).
M. Glover, "Abstraction's Rich Possibilities" in The Independent, 21 November 2000, p. 10 (illustrated).
C. Darwent, "Shy, Assertive, Even Lonely, His Wriggly Lines are Moody Trails. Brice Marden, Serpentine Gallery, London" in The Independent on Sunday, 26 November 2000, p. 5.
C. McQuaid, "Capturing Eastern Spirit in a Spectacle of Paint" in The Boston Globe, 24 January 2002, sec. D, p. 1 (illustrated in color).
Coalition for the Homeless/11th Annual Artwalk, New York, 17 October 2005, p. 7 (illustrated in color).
Miami Art Museum and Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Brice Marden: Work of the 1990s, February 1999-August 2000.
London, Serpentine Gallery, Brice Marden, November 2000-January 2001, p. 65, no. 25 (illustrated in color; illustrated in color again on the cover).
Boston University Art Gallery, Looking East: Brice Marden, Michael Mazur, and Pat Steir, January-February 2002, p. 55, no. 12 (illustrated in color, p. 65, pl. 10; detail illustrated in color on the cover).
New York, Matthew Marks Gallery, Brice Marden: Attendants, Bears, and Rocks, May-June 2002, no. 30 (illustrated in color).
Zürich, Daros Collection, Brice Marden, June 2003-January 2004, p. 120, no. 18 (illustrated in color).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.
Further details
This work will be included the artist’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

Brice Marden’s The Attended is one of a series of six paintings inspired by the artist’s travels in Asia. The freely drawn calligraphic lines are spontaneous and full of spirit, while the underlying translucent ground displays the artist’s more contemplative mood; the colorful ribbons that meander across the surface of this large-scale canvas fill it with sinuous lyrical abstraction without overwhelming it. Unlike many of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, for example, where the artist’s painterly swirls appear to respect the sanctity of the picture plane, Marden’s lines are imbued with a free-spirit, and when they come into direct contact with the edge of stretched canvas they are sometimes constrained by it, but at other times they appear to break free and push beyond them to enter another dimension. The art critic Peter Schjeldahl once likened their twisting forms to the writhing snakes being wrestled into submission in the Vatican Museum’s classical masterpiece The Laocoon. However, they were actually inspired by Chinese script that the artist had experienced on his visits to Asia in the 1980s; these lines possess a confidence and elegance that is intrinsic to the finest examples of Marden’s paintings from this period.
Beginning in the 1980s with his Cold Mountain series, Marden created works in a literal calligraphic style, beginning in the top right-hand corner of the composition and working largely downwards, moving left column by column. In the 1990s, a new more confident, and totally independent and self-contained, series emerged, and by the end of the decade, Marden had let go of this strictly calligraphic model: “I didn’t start off with the characters in the upper right and then work down and over as I had before with the calligraphy paintings. There aren’t any columns anymore or things connecting columns. I just went into these [paintings] and started a line. It seemed much more intuitive at that point” (quoted in E. Wilson, “Brice Marden, Work of the 1990s: Paintings, Drawings and Prints,” in Carnegie Magazine, May/June 2000).
The meandering forms that snake through The Attended illustrate what, for Marden, had now become purely intuitive. Given over to the literal flatness of the picture plane, reduced to solely four colors, limited to nothing but line, the painting exists within another, purely pictorial realm. The fact that Marden described this process as “intuitive” indicates his overall mastery of his own practiced pictorial idiom. Painted over the course of several years (1996-1999), repeatedly tracing and re-tracing, Marden allows the painting to lead beyond itself, beyond what Richard Shiff terms “knowledge and self-knowledge” (quoted in “Force of Myself Looking,” in G. Garrels, ed., Plane Image: A Brice Marden Retrospective, New York, 2006, p. 40). Inherently, the work evokes the passage of time and the boundlessness of eternity. The eye naturally follows the path scoped out by the soft colors, over and through, loop-the-loop, an endless number of times. The process—in both Marden’s execution and in the viewer’s reading—is akin to walking a labyrinth towards an unseen destination.
His chosen title for this series—Attendant or Attended—is evocative of something greater than the abstraction of the painting’s surface. Literally, the works are named for Chinese funerary sculptures from the Han period called attendant figures. These earthenware objects, meant to accompany the deceased into the afterlife, often depicted men and women standing, kneeling or dancing. Meant to be viewed in the round, the figure’s dynamic positions might have influenced Marden’s careful and deliberate system of layered, curvilinear bands of color, which loop and swirl in endless combinations. The word, which indicates “one who attends or waits for another,” and indeed, the Chinese attendant figures literally “attended to” the deceased for all eternity.
Now in his 80s, Marden still inspires many contemporary artists today as “one of the most important abstract artists of his generation, his work…a touchstone for contemporary art” (G. Garrels, ibid., p. 22). Born in 1938 in Bronxville, New York, Marden went on to receive traditional arts education at the Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, followed by a MFA at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture. In 1966, he had his breakout solo show at Bykert Gallery in Manhattan; a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York followed soon after in 1975. In the early 1970s, Marden first visited the Greek island of Hydra where he was so enamored of the island’s beauty and serenity that he eventually established a studio there in addition to his Manhattan studio.
From the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, Marden pursued the inspired integration of calligraphic East Asian-inspired gestures into his work. Later on, the curved lines became more ropelike and brightly colored, adopting the confident rhythm of the present work. In the early 1990s, Marden was the subject of a major traveling show of recent work, the 1991 Brice Marden—Cold Mountain at the Dia Art Foundation in New York, which traveled well into 1993 to the Walker Art Center, the Menil Collection, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Kunstmuseum. His work of the 1990s was also the subject of a 1999 exhibition that traveled from the Dallas Museum of Art to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. In 2006, Marden was the subject of a major forty-year retrospective that traveled from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the San Francisco Museum of Art to the Hamburger Banhof in Berlin.
When asked about why he painted, Marden replied, “I paint because it's my work. And I paint because I believe it's the best way that I can pass my time as a human being. I paint for myself. I paint for my wife. And I paint for anybody who's willing to look at it. Really at heart for anybody who wants to see it. And when I say see it, I mean see it. I don't just mean look at it. Well, I do everything I can in terms of what I put out for people to look at. I mean I supply them with all the information I possibly can. And they just have to take care of it from there on in. As in anything, you know, like the more responsive, the more open, the more imaginative you are when you deal with something, the much better experience it will be...It's hard to look at paintings. It's really difficult, a very strenuous kind of activity but very, very rewarding. I mean like it's strenuous to listen to a great piece of music. Very complicated. You have to think a lot. You have to be able to bring all sorts of things together in your mind, your imagination, in your whole body. Really get off on it. It's a very high experience. It's something very deep and felt” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 2006, p. 17).

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