Agnes Martin

“Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind.”

An Introduction to Agnes Martin at The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The Art Channel explores the Agnes Martin exhibition at Tate Modern and analyses several major works. Martin was a painter who retreated from New York City to a solitary life in New Mexico in the 1970s, where she acquired a mythic status. But what do her abstract paintings communicate and how might we understand them? Grace Adam and Joshua White lead you through this significant exhibition. The exhibition is jointly organised by the LA County Museum of Art, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany.

Agnes Martin’s restrained yet evocative paintings came from her belief that spiritual inspiration rather than intellect created great work. In this film, which includes rare archive footage of the artist in her studio in New Mexico, her art dealer and confidant Arne Glimcher remembers Martin’s philosophical ideas about her work and her rigorous process in developing her paintings.

Tate curator Frances Morris also reveals the mathematical precision behind Martin’s abstract masterpieces, and the intense experimentation which led to her signature grids.

Producer Actress (aka Darren J Cunningham) composed an original score inspired by Agnes Martin’s artwork and journey across the USA.

Agnes Martin is recognised for her evocative paintings and restrained style, which was underpinned by her deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art.

In 1967, just as her art was gaining acclaim, Martin abandoned the artistic community in New York City and went in search of solitude and silence. For almost two years she traveled across the US and Canada before finally settling in New Mexico.

From there within tightly prescribed limits she imposed on her own practice Martin was able to continue to make extraordinary, visionary paintings, for over three decades until her death in 2004.

Trailer of the new documentary Between the Lines by Leon d’Avigdor about the painter Agnes Martin.

BETWEEN THE LINES is a film about the Canadian-American painter Agnes Martin. The core of the material was produced in fall 2002 in Taos (New Mexico), Agnes Martin’s final place of residence. It consists of interviews and shots at work in her Taos Studio, complemented by images of selected paintings, archival footage, quotes from Agnes Martin’s writings, and meditative sequences of the sea she loved so much.

The interviews center around Agnes Martin’s deep insight to fundamental human experiences such as Love, Religion and Spirituality, Happiness, Friendship, Innocence and Death as well as various aspects of her life and art resp. the creative process.

BETWEEN THE LINES is, just as Agnes Martin’s art, a deep journey ‘towards the within’ and unfolds the unique path she has chosen in her life and art. It allows its audience to embark on a contemplative encounter with an exraordinary artist and human being.

AGNES MARTIN (1912 – 2004) is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. She considered herself an abstract expressionist. Those who met her often used terms like inner silence, non-attachment and peace to describe her extraordinary presence. Hence, she was often called a mystic and a sage. Agnes Martin however rejected this kind of designation, she simply regarded her life as a quest for truth and her work as its expression through art.

Agnes Martin’s paintings, emerged from deep states of contemplation, are “concrete representations of abstract emotions” as she expressed it with the profound simplicity that was characteristic both for her way of life and her artistic vocabulary. From the early 1960s, the latter was limited to square canvases inscribed with lines or grids, using subtle colors that can appear almost immaterial. The paintings that Agnes Martin created this way are recognized as masterpieces of pure abstraction and timeless beauty.

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