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Currently on show at New York’s Guggenheim Museum Agnes Martin tracing back to her early experiments of the 1950’s to her mature oeuvre and final paintings.


For more than forty years, Agnes Martin (1912–2004) created serene paintings composed of grids and stripes. With an attention to the subtleties of line, surface, tone, and proportion, she varied these forms to generate a body of work impressive both in its intricacy and focus. Martin’s commitment to this spare style was informed by a belief in the transformative power of art, in its ability to conjure what she termed “abstract emotions”—happiness, love, and experiences of innocence, freedom, beauty, and perfection. This retrospective, her first comprehensive survey in over two decades, presents the scope of Martin’s output, including her biomorphic abstractions of the 1950s, signature grid and stripe compositions, and final paintings. Together these works trace Martin’s practice as she developed and refined a format to express her singular vision.


One of the few female artists who gained recognition in the male-dominated art world of the 1950s and ’60s, Martin is a pivotal figure between two of that era’s dominant movements: Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Her content—an expression of essential emotions—relates her to the earlier group, the Abstract Expressionists, but her methods—repetition, geometric compositions, and basic means—were adopted by the Minimalists, who came to prominence during the ’60s. Martin’s work, however, is more than a bridge between the two. It stands apart by never losing sight of the subjective while aspiring toward perfection. “I would like [my pictures] to represent beauty, innocence and happiness,” she said. “I would like them all to represent that. Exaltation.”


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