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):
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.
water colour and graphite on paper (1977)
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):
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):
(image from the harwood musuem):
A serene geometry
(image from artnet):
(image from the pace gallery):
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):
Tate Modern, London
until 11 October 2015
For further details, view: