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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© 2010 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Brice Marden
American, born 1938
Oil and beeswax on three canvas panels

69 1/8 x 51 3/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Arts of North America

In this three-panel painting, Brice Marden creates an abstract portrait of his wife, Helen Harrington Marden, herself an artist. Her height and shoulder width determine each panel's dimensions, and the title of the work—Blonde—references her hair color.

Throughout his career, Marden has demonstrated the importance of pure painting. In the late 1960s, he established his signature monochromatic style, bridging the painterly qualities of Abstract Expressionism with the pared-down sensibility of Minimalism.

In Blonde, Marden eliminated any linear or drawing elements from the monochromatic composition; by joining three panels, however, the space between the components comes to function as drawing. Silently luminous, Blonde balances a dense surface, ripe with pictorial incident, with formal simplicity. Having reduced the composition to blocks of uninflected color, Marden makes each panel mutely its own.