Beauty, happiness, innocence, joy, and love

agnes martin

Agnes Martin, courtesy Pace Gallery

Wonderful to see Agnes Martin’s work honored as the Google search engine logo today. Look in vain for anything that will convey the beauty and stillness of her paintings on the Web. It’s yet another example of how little a reproduction can convey what an actual painting can communicate–in a particular and unique place and time, where your body is also required. Sorry Internet, deal with it. Her ¬†subtle application of color eludes photographs and computer screens. I saw her paintings on a visit to Santa Fe with Donna Rose, when we drove to Santa Fe from Albuquerque, where we’d flown to hear Dave Hickey interview Ed Ruscha at the Tamarind Institute. Martin’s work has an amazing sense of depth, despite the fact that she’s essentially working in a minimalist tradition. Her surface doesn’t appear flat at all, and the simple forms seem both distinct and yet continuous with everything else in the picture. She felt she belonged with the abstract expressionists, with a spirituality that shunned ¬†intellectualism. As the Pace Gallery ¬†wonderfully put it on their website for a show a decade ago: “Martin has historically explored non-referential and transcendent themes of Beauty, Happiness, Innocence, Joy and Love.”

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