As Marden’s works evolved he started to move away from solid areas of colour to a more open and calligraphic style. This work developed during the 1980’s and Untitled #3 is a good example. Here Marden is continuing with his preoccupation of placing colour in unique spatial combinations, but he was now drawing in space rather than painting in space as his marks become more gestural. What is still evident is his ability to make different colours look as if they really belong with one another, and more than ever he seems to be channelling the thinking of Mondrian. Marden seems to be finding sympathy with some of Mondrian’s earlier abstractions where the idea of the drawing is distilled into an objective space. Line now becomes paramount while various areas of transparency play with spatial concepts.
The precursor to these paintings is always drawing, which Marden considers to be a necessary discipline. With drawing, the mind and hand are allowed to flow freely and there is no concern for establishing a hierarchy of gestures. In his paintings Marden seems to be able to continue with this open ended system, and in a way the rectangle (canvas), remains very important to him as his lines traverse its surface, responding to its height and width.
In late 2006 a retrospective of Marden’s paintings and drawings was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This was an unprecedented gathering of the artist's work and the first overview of the entirety of his career. With 56 paintings and more than 50 drawings, the exhibition was organised chronologically, beginning with works from the 1960s and ending with two new monumental paintings exhibited for the first time.