Agnes Martin Remembered.
Interviews with Bob Ellis, Carol Sarkisian, Happy Price, James Kelly, Donald Woodman, Peter Vitale, Wes Mills and Kristina Wilson.
Radius Books, 2009. 160 pp., 30 four-color illustrations, 9x7".
This is a book of remembrances of Agnes Martin, the enigmatic, influential, highly independent painter whose life (1912–2004) spanned much of the twentieth century and extended into the twenty-first. The text is comprised of a series of interviews with friends, dealers, collectors, studio assistants and others who had close relationships with this notoriously reclusive artist. In addition, photographs of Martin, both in her studio and elsewhere, as well as ephemera and snapshots of her life from the 1960s through 2004 are included.
Born in Canada, Martin spent most of her life in the United States, primarily in New Mexico, whose wide open spaces and empty landscapes provided the isolation and inspiration she considered essential to her work. At the urging of Betty Parsons, her legendary dealer at the time, she lived in New York City in the late 1950s and 1960s, where she encountered Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns during the height of the abstract expressionist movement, and the first stirrings of pop art and minimalism.
Often referred to as a minimalist because of the marks and lines of her grid paintings, she herself rejected that moniker and that movement as too materially based. After a long hiatus from painting, she began to work again in the mid-1970s, and her subsequent work became more and more translucent and transcendent as she merged the concepts of Taoist meditation with Platonic geometry. In the book American Masterpieces, Sister Wendy Beckett said, “No-one who has seriously spent time before an Agnes Martin, letting its peace communicate itself, receiving its inexplicable and ineffable happiness, has ever been disappointed. The work awes, not just with its delicacy, but with its vigor, and this power and visual interest is something that has to be experienced.”
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