The acquisition comes as a gift from longtime Dia trustee Frances Bowes, whose involvement with the the New York–based foundation began in 1990. Marden himself served on Dia’s board, from 2013 to 2015. The artist’s first workings with the foundation surrounded the “Cold Mountain” show at the old Dia space on West 22nd Street, which in the late ’80s and early ’90s helped pioneer the art world’s movement to a once-forsaken industrial neighborhood that has since undergone great change. (Hauser & Wirth currently occupies the building that once housed Dia.)
The 1991 show was the first to display Marden’s painterly engagement with rounded, wandering calligraphic forms and themes in the writings of 9th-century Chinese poet Hanshan, a.k.a. Cold Mountain. Dia’s description of the show reads: “Marden’s exhibition explored the contemplative experience of attuning the senses to change and permutation, exploration and process.”
The acquisition follows others in recent months, including the addition of works by Anne Truitt to Dia’s holdings for the first time as well as the donation last month of 21 paintings by Robert Ryman that have been on view via long-term loan at the upstate New York museum destination Dia:Beacon. Last year the foundation acquired early works by Robert Morris that transformed part of Dia:Beacon’s spacious environs into an evocation of a storied 1964 show held at the Green Gallery in Manhattan.
In a statement, Dia’s director, Jessica Morgan, said the gift “reinforces and expands the historical narratives of Dia’s holdings of abstract painting.” Bowes, in a statement, said, “I love these paintings by Brice, and am delighted to know that they will find a home at Dia where they can be enjoyed by future generations. I am immensely proud of the Dia institution and this gift is a way I can honor it as it moves forward.”