AGNES MARTIN​

 

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Martin was renowned for her subtle, evocative canvases marked out in pencil grids and pale colour washes. The exhibition covers the full breadth of her practice, reasserting her position as a key figure in the traditionally male-dominated field of American abstraction. 

 

This internationally touring show demonstrates Agnes Martin as one of the pre-eminent painters of the twentieth century and traces her career from early experiments to her final painting from 2004. Born in 1912 in Macklin, Saskatchewan, Canada, Martin established her career as an artist in New York, living in the Coenties Slip neighborhood alongside fellow artists Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana and Lenore Tawney. The exhibition reveals Martin’s lesser-known early paintings and experimental works from this period including The Garden1958. It charts her experiments in different media and formats with found objects and geometric shapes, before she began making her inimitable penciled grids on large, square canvases which would become her hallmark. Tate Modern brings together seminal examples of these works from the 1960s such as Friendship1963, a gold leaf covered canvas incised with Martin’s emblematic fine grid. 

 

Martin left the New York art scene in 1967, just as her art was gaining considerable acclaim.  In search of solitude and silence, she traveled across theUS and Canada for almost two years before finally settling in New Mexico where she lived for the rest of her life. Georgia O’Keeffe had already famously moved to New Mexico by 1940 and other artists and writers such as DH Lawrence, Edward Hopper and Mark Rothko had all been drawn to visit the area. 

 

Martin began making work again with On a Clear Day 1973, a portfolio of prints of differently proportioned grids and parallel lines. She continued to work in series of paintings, creating delicate, evocative works in monochrome or colour washes in combinations of pale blue, red and yellow. While often associated with Minimalists and an influential figure to those artists, Martin’s restrained style underpinned a deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art influenced by Asian belief systems including Taoism and Zen Buddhism as well as the natural surroundings of New Mexico. The exhibition also features a group of Martin’s final works brought together from private collections including Untitled #1 2003 which reintroduce the bold geometric forms she had experimented with in her early career. 

 

Don't Be. Become.

 

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A U T H O R
Donald Anthony

I M A G E 

Sergio Calleja

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