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Works by Agnes Martin

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Agnes Martin was a Canadian artist who moved to the States to study and ultimately teach art.

At first she painted landscapes but when she moved to New York in the 50’s she became an integral member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, meaning her paintings evolved to be more minimal until they were just vertical and horizontal lines. There were perhaps a simplification of the horizon line in her earlier landscapes, but people also speculate that the grids of New York City blocks and the shape of skyscrapers made their way into her mind.

She left New York for New Mexico because the building her studio was in was going to be torn down, and then didn’t paint for seven years! She lived basically like a hermit, with no radio and taking very few visitors. It’s said that she didn’t even read a newspaper for 50 years! Her interest in the teachings of Zen Buddhism may have accounted for the drastic lifestyle change.

The spiritual aspect to her paintings is the reason she wanted to be called an Abstract Expressionist instead of a Minimalist. Agnes Martin’s fragile lines speak to her psyche and philosophy on life, whereas Minimalism was a conceptual exercise in paring down art to just the stuff it’s made out of (think plain black canvases or big metal boxes).

There is lots of speculation about Martin’s sexuality. Though she had romantic relationships with women she never publicly identified as a lesbian. The silence and mystery surrounding her personal life could be said to be related to the quiet yet profound effect her large canvases have on the viewer.



I know I always feel contemplative in front of an Agnes Martin. Do you?


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Agnes Martin

Agnes Bernice Martin RCA (March 22, 1912 – December 16, 2004), was an American abstract painter. Her work has been defined as an "essay in discretion on inward-ness and silence". Although she is often considered or referred to as a minimalist, Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist and was one of the leading practitioners of Abstract Expressionism in the 20th century. She was awarded a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998. She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2004.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Agnes Martin