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Agnes Martin

“Our emotional life is really dominant over our intellectual life but we do not realize it.”

Agnes Martin (1912-2004) reigns as a key figure in the Minimalist movement, though she called herself an Abstract Expressionist, identifying with the school’s notion of the marriage of pure emotions with art.

Her signature style relies on faint lines, repeatedly horizontal or in grids, along with a palette of whites and greys and, sometimes, washed blues and pinks. Though Martin was ever inspired by wide and open landscapes, her reductive line paintings and drawings were meant to be responses to rather than representations of them. She explained, “My work is anti-nature. It is not what is seen. It is what is known forever in the mind.” In describing her experience of coming into an open landscape she once said, “I think when you come out of the mountains and onto a plain it’s a pretty exciting experience; and I guess it is expansion that is related to the grid. You know, the expansion of that experience…It’s about the infinite.”

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Martin later lived in New York and elsewhere before eventually settling in New Mexico, where high mesas and clear views abound for miles. It was during this time in Taos, New Mexico, that Martin created the pieces from her “Innocent Love” series, currently on view at Dia: Beacon in New York.

Art without images