CART 0

Agnes Martin

Selvedge

Guest Exhibition Review by George Townsend

This summer, Tate Modern is holding the first retrospective on abstract expressionist Agnes Martin in over twenty years. As with all of these Tate summer shows, it’s huge – including eleven sizable rooms of paintings, not to mention works in other media: prints and pencil drawings, as well as sculpture involving found objects. The Heavenly Race (Running) c.1959 In Martin’s case, the beauty of a retrospective as grand as this, is that both the trends and the transitions particular to her career become clearly visible: her taste for empty white space, enclosed by washed – out pinks, grey-blues and earthy browns, recurs throughout, as does the subtle interaction of oils and graphite on canvas. On the other hand, the curvy biomorphic forms of early, Jean Arp-esque works such as Midwinter (1954) have clearly been relinquished by the late 1960s, in favour of austere horizontal stripes, and the meticulously hand-drawn grids of masterpieces like A Grey Stone (1963). nlkn Another striking continuity is Martin’s pursuit of what she termed ‘innocence of mind’. Playfully scrawled in amongst the forms of her early paintings, Martin’s childlike, curly – lettered signature disappears in the 60s. But her later works (and the Islands I-XII series in particular) nonetheless suggest a similar love of innocence, pursued on a more fundamental level – not through forms abstracted from nature, but through a series of approaches to formlessness itself. On a Clear Day 1973 And if all this begins to sound like the spiel of a mindfulness handbook, perhaps that’s unsurprising. With titles like ‘Friendship’ and ‘I Love the Whole World’, it’s undeniable that Martin was something of a hippy, that her work has a kind of spiritual, New Age element to it. But however earnest the spirituality behind her practice, part of the appeal of the paintings – and the show as a whole - stems from the artist’s sheer attention to detail, in terms of colour, line and mark. Her work seems always to invite closer, more intimate inspection first – sentimental response later. Agnes Martin at the Tate Modern until 11 October, Sun–Thurs, 10–6, Fri–Sat, 10–10 Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG www.tate.org.uk b;bj Image Credits from top: Agnes Martin (1912-2004) Untitled #10 1990 Pace Gallery, New York © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Agnes Martin (1912-2004) The Heavenly Race (Running) c.1959 Private collection © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Agnes Martin (1912-2004) Untitled #1 2003 Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Agnes Martin (1912-2004) On a Clear Day 1973 Parasol Press, Ltd. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Agnes Martin (1912-2004) Friendship 1963 Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Sale

Unavailable

Sold Out