Martin, Agnes

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Martin, Agnes

Agnes Martin (Agnes Bernice Martin), 1912–2004, American painter, b. Macklin, Canada. She moved to the United States in 1931, became a U.S. citizen in 1950, and emerged as an important artist in the late 50s and early 60s. Martin is best known for her spare, abstract all-over grid paintings. Penciled on canvases that are monochrome or washed in muted colors, these emotionally evocative works seem to glow with an interior light. Her use of line expresses both strength and delicacy within a restrained yet luminous form. Martin, who came to New York City in 1957 and left it a decade later, settled in New Mexico, and abandoned painting until 1974. Her later works are intimate yet impersonal, and often created in series. They usually contain horizontal bands drawn in graphite and painted in a subtle, limited palette that suggest a shimmering, mysteriously lighted, and depthless space. Among the many public collections that include her paintings are the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, and Guggenheim Museum, New York City, and the Tate Gallery, London.

See her Writings (1992); study by B. Haskell (1992).

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