The first retrospective of Agnes Martin’s (1912–2004) work in the United States since 1992, this extensive exhibition covers the full breadth of her practice, revealing her early and little-known experiments with different media and tracing her development from biomorphic abstraction to the mesmerizing grids and striped canvases that became her hallmark.
A seminal artist of the twentieth century and a pioneer of abstraction, Agnes Martin’s visionary aesthetic and reclusive lifestyle have inspired artists and practitioners across all creative disciplines. Her style, though restrained, underscored her deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art. Martin viewed her work as a pursuit of perfection, striving to instill every painting with “beauty, innocence, and happiness.”
Martin’s development of the grid marked a crossroads in the history of abstract painting. By gently inscribing penciled lines over subtle fields of wash and color, Martin established a geometric and spatial language that she would persist in refining and reinterpreting over ensuing decades. An advocate of pure abstraction, Martin was one of the few prominent female artists in the prevailingly masculine art world of the late 1950s and 1960s.
In 1967, just as her art was gaining acclaim, Martin abandoned New York City and her practice in pursuit of silence and solitude, traversing the United States and Canada. Settling on a remote mesa outside of Cuba, New Mexico, Martin returned to art-making in 1973. Working within tightly prescribed and self-imposed limits, Martin continued to make extraordinary, visionary works for over three decades until her death in 2004.
Exhibition organized by Tate Modern in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
This exhibition is made possible by the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Generous support is also provided by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.
All exhibitions at LACMA are underwritten by the LACMA Exhibition Fund. Major annual support is provided by Kitzia and Richard Goodman, with generous annual funding from Janet Chann and Michael Irwin in memory of George Chann, Louise and Brad Edgerton, Edgerton Foundation, Emily and Teddy Greenspan, Jenna and Jason Grosfeld, Lenore and Richard Wayne, and The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation.
Image: Agnes Martin, Untitled from the portfolio On a Clear Day, 1973, screenprint, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Kotick Family Foundation in honor of Lynda and Stewart Resnick through the 2007 Collectors Committee © 2016 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photos © Museum Associates/LACMA