With all the recognition being accorded Neo-Expressionism and the revival of figure painting in general these days, the time when abstract painting dominated the art scene is becoming more and more a distant memory. Yet abstract painting persists, of course, and one example of it—Brice Marden’s non-gestural, geometric, reductive abstraction—was recently on view at the Pace Gallery.

Marden emerged in the middle 1960s as part of the Minimalist movement. Minimalism had only just emerged as a movement in opposition to what were then considered to be the excesses of Abstract Expressionism— in particular its seemingly emotionally profligate, gestural application of paint, its deep, almost solipsistic subjectivity, and its insistence, in some cases, on a metaphysical dimension to painting.

Minimalism set out to move away from that. Beginning with Frank Stella’s black and white...

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