BRICE MARDEN: COLD MOUNTAIN by Brenda Richardson
The Menil Collection, 2007 First edition, 154 pp., 10 1/4 10 3/4, Hardcover
Inspired by Chinese calligraphy and Taoist philosophy, Marden began his Cold Mountain works in the mid-1980s. The series title and its forms refer to writings by the celebrated poet Han Shan, known as “Cold Mountain,” who was active in China during the Tang dynasty (618–907). In addition to alluding to calligraphy, the loose, vinelike lines of Zen Study 5 (Early State) also evoke the natural world and the work of Jackson Pollock and other mid-century gestural abstractionists. Marden dipped a stick in sugar solution and, starting with the top right corner, drew the poems—each consisting of four vertically arranged couplets of five characters—on prepared plates. Layering forms, he linked both characters and couplets and allowed dark skeins to flow across the surface, exceeding the plate’s edge.