Agnes Martin’s artwork is a complex dream removed of life’s clutter. In fact, she would want you to view her paintings “…as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.” Ms. Martin was an American painter that lived from 1912 to 2004. She was known for her Minimalist sensibility that allowed for human imperfections.
She was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up in British Columbia. In the 1940s, she moved to New York to study art education at Columbia College. In 1954, Ms. Martin did her first abstract work in Taos, New Mexico. In 1957, she moved to New York City and worked besides artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, and John Youngerman.
According to Holland Cotter of the New York Times: “In 1967, when her New York career was taking off, she abruptly left the city, wandered the country for months in a pickup and camper, and stopped making art for seven years. She finally settled in New Mexico, building an adobe house with her own hands on a remote mesa where in winter she was snowed in for weeks at a time. After she resumed painting in 1974 her reputation grew and took on the aura of a legend, and her work was widely collected.”
Agnes Martin was also an amazing writer. Here’s an excerpt from one of her poems:
Humility, the beautiful daughter
She cannot do either right or wrong
She does not do anything
All of her ways are empty
Infinitely light and delicate
She treads an even path
Sweet, smiling, uninterrupted, free
Martin said in an interview with Chuck Smith and Sono Kuwayama: “…the best things in life happen to you when your alone.” Agnes Martin was notoriously known to be a loner. Good or bad, that really doesn’t matter because her practice became her sanctuary. Like her art, she thrived from a silent and strong humility. Her art was close like kin.