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The artist Agnes Martin

was born in the provincial town of Macklin, Saskatchewan-Canada.

She would become a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1940.

 

 

..

Her birth year,  1912

is the same as that of the sinking of the Titanic-

a fateful occurence of seismic historical impact;

an explosive event remembered by imagery severe.

 

The expressionist abstract paintings by Agnes Martin, by contrast

are of quiet, subdued, measured intent.

From the late 1960s until her death at the age of 92 in 2004,

Ms. Martin produced works of a serene, contemplative quality.

 

(photo by Donald Woodman):

(image from the pace gallery):   agnes martin, abstract artist

Photo of the artist Agnes Martin

taken by photographer Donald Woodman

who worked as her assistant,  1977 – 1984

Ms.  Martin is widely known for her geometric girdwork paintings

of precisely drawn horizontal and vertical lines

and she is recognised for her paintings of colour bands

in muted, subdued, tightly restrained colours-

so faint as to be almost imperceptible.

Ms.  Martin once  summarised her process as

“… (painting) with my back to the world”.   (quote from the Guardian, UK).

Her paintings elicit a sense of soothing, quiet reflection-

an aesthetic element of composed stillness, of quietude.

agnes martin, abstract artist

Untitled

water colour and graphite on paper (1977)

 

agnes martin, abstract artist

Happy Holiday 

(1997)

Ms.  Martin’s paintings of abstract expression

lack all sense of the chaotic mental energy

which often defined her personal life.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenia,

Ms. Martin lived the greater part of her adult life as a recluse-

living a Spartan existence on a mesa in New Mexico, USA.

Her self-imposed isolated circumstance seemingly

quelled the inner disturbances which troubled her-

at least enough for her to produce such ‘noiseless’ paintings.

(Those afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia often state that they hear “voices”.)

Early phase of Agnes Martin’s artistic development:

The Biomorphic paintings

(image from taos news):

agnes martin, abstract artist

 

These works are of the

pre-geometric, pre-grid, pre-colour band phase

of Ms. Martin’s ouevre

The biomorphic paintings are of abstract shapes,

which ellicit reference to living forms.

 

(image from phaidon):

agnes martin, abstract artist

(image from the harwood musuem):

agnes martin, abstract artist

(1949)

Quietude.   Exactitude.

A serene geometry

 

 

agnes martin, abstract artist

(1959)

(image from artnet):

agnes martin, abstract artist

(1963)

(image from the pace gallery):

 

agnes martin, abstract artist

Islands

aryclic, graphite on canvas

Ms. Martin’s paintings have been exhibited

in prominent museums world-wide including

the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art

the Museum of Modern Art

the Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC)

and currently the Tate Modern, London.

She would continue to paint until her death in 2004.

(image from christies):

agnes martin, abstract artist

(2003)

Agnes Martin

Tate Modern, London

until 11 October 2015

For further details, view:

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/agnes-martin