Brice Marden

Bridge Study

Not on view



Ink, wash, and opaque watercolor on paper

Sheet (Irregular): 26 × 34 3/8in. (66 × 87.3 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee and The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation, Inc.

Rights and reproductions
© Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York


In the drawing Bridge Study, a study for a painting of the same name, Brice Marden transformed the palm trees in the balmy Caribbean island of St. Bart’s into gestural calligraphy. Marden took his title from the Ming Dynasty poet Han Shan, whose poems describe a bridge that one crosses to meet the immortals. Writhing black and white organic lines spill across the surface and beyond the edges of the drawing. With swirling energy, the lines form interlocked organic shapes that render an almost figural character to the whole.

From 1989 to 1991, Marden worked on a series of drawings called Cold Mountain, visually related to Bridge Study and also based on poems by Han Shan. In making these works, he painted as one would read in Chinese—top to bottom, right to left—and reimagined the calligraphic page as an open but coherent, interlacing composition. He did not respond to any of the poet’s ideograms directly, just as he did not trace fronds of the Caribbean palms in Bridge Study, but echoes of nature and poetry run through the lines across the page.