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Brice Marden

Summer Table

1972-73

Artist

Brice Marden (1938-)

Title

Summer Table

Date

1972-73

Medium

Oil and wax on canvas

Dimensions

Overall: 60 1/4 × 105 3/8 in. (153 × 267.7 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts

Accession number

73.30

Object Label

Brice Marden’s Summer Table is divided into three equally sized but differently colored panels, all free of explicit representational reference and obvious brushstrokes. Marden used a spatula to smooth out the paint, creating a matte but lustrous surface. However, he also left a strip of canvas at the bottom with drips and splashes of paint, thus displaying the process that is camouflaged in the rest of the work. The evidence of process relates Marden’s work to the gesture-filled Abstract Expressionist canvases of the 1950s. Summer Table, moreover, is not a “pure” abstraction. Like the work of Ellsworth Kelly, it is based on an observation—in this case, Marden’s recollection of a table he saw on the Greek island of Hydra, set out with glasses of lemonade and Coca-Cola, as well as the colors of the surrounding garden and sea. As the work progressed, the formal aspects of the panels took over, creating stronger colors with a visually tense interplay between the bright central panel and its flanks.

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