My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a sort of contradiction, a dissonance, though I didn't set out to do it that way. When I cover the square surface with rectangles, it lightens the weight of the square, destroys its power.—Agnes Martin, from Writings
Peter Blum Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Agnes Martin, Works on Paper, January 18 through March 15, 2008, at Peter Blum SoHo, 99 Wooster Street, New York. The exhibition includes over 20 drawings and watercolors from 1960 to 2004,including the very last drawing she made in 2004. Also on view is the print portfolio On a Clear Day, an important group of 30 screenprints from 1973. The exhibition looks at the development of Martin’s work, from her earliest studies of abstraction, to her introduction of color, and finally to her last drawing.
In the late 1950’s Agnes Martin’s landscapes and biomorphic surrealist works transformed into abstraction and what would eventually become her signature examination of rectangular grids within a square format. Her work ranges from early tight grids to the opening up of forms to wider rectangles. Disillusioned with New York, Martin moved to New Mexico in 1967 and abandoned painting. When she resumed her work around 1974, the earlier primarily black and white palette modified to include monochromatic washes of subtle pastel colors, perhaps influenced by the New Mexico landscape. While Martin’s abstract repetitive forms have been associated with Minimalist style, she considered Minimalism impersonal and over-intellectual, preferring her work to be characterized as Abstract Expressionist due to its more personal and spiritual nature. Inspired by emerging concepts of Taoism and Zen Buddism in the 1950’s, Martin, like many of the Abstract Expressionists, sought a style that transcended the material world and spoke more of the mind and the experience of the sublime.