Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004)

Living in Chile – so far away from the UK it is impossible for me to attend study days/student visits to galleries organised by the OCA.  So I need to invent other ways to fill in this gap in my studies. I have been visiting galleries both in Chile and outside of Chile during my travels this year: Bolivia and Germany.  Other trips this year include Colombia and Mexico.

This morning on YouTube I came across the work of Agnes Martin – an abstract expressionist who was lucky enough to reach the age of 92 – painting right up until the end.

I always thought that in expressing ones inner feelings in a painting was about making fast energetic, maybe furious marks – as in De Kooning or Pollock. In the work of Rothko he wanted the viewer to feel the emotions of his paintings and even cry in front of them.

The paintings of Agnes Martin however are quiet peaceful paintings with muted pastel colours (except for a series in black) – living a solatory reclusive life (not even reading a newspaper during the last 50  years of her life – to avoid distracting her thoughts/feelings) she poured her emotions into her works.

Happy Holiday 1999 by Agnes Martin 1912-2004
Agnes Martin, Happy Holiday 1999
friendship 1963 agnes martin
Agnes Martin, Friendship 1963

I personally cannot see the emotions within these paintings – they are silent, peaceful yes, but also cold and calculated. I need to find a gallery with the works to witness first hand if I would react differently to them. Martin very carefully calculated the division of the lines and would immediately destroy any paintings that did not meet her rigourously standards – this for me is cold and religiously extreme.  If you looked up close the lines and marks were imperfect  – this was deliberate and part of her technique.

agnes martin blue flower 1962
Agnes Martin, Blue flower 1962

I am intrigued by her work and wish to imitate her on perhaps a smaller scale at present and on paper.

References (From YouTube):

Tate shots – Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin Artist – video by Jennifer Kiley

Agnes Modern at the Tate Modern on The Art Channel

Moma – How to paint like Agnes Martin / IN THE STUDIO with Covey D’Augustine

 

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Un comentario sobre “Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004)

  1. Hi Roger – I share your frustrations living away from the UK that seems to get so many great exhibitions (though admittedly it’s just a short hop for me). Funnily enough at the recent ‘Rencontres Arles’ festival of photography the focus was on Latin American photographers, particularly Columbian. Back to Agnes Martin – if you ever get the chance to see her work in person, do. In books and on screens her work never turned my head, I found it dull. That is until I walked in to an exhibition and one of her paintings was across the room from me, among many other artists. It had the most extraordinary effect. It seemed to thrum and call out. Despite it’s calm appearance, it had a louder voice than the other works in the gallery. ..

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