The largest Agnes Martin retrospective comes to LACMA

by Amy Marie Slocum

The Retrospective—organized by the Tate Modern—presents a crystal clear portrait of the artist's meandering introspective life
"The Minimalists are idealist. They want to minimize themselves in favor of the ideal... But I just can't. You see, my paintings are not cool." — Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin—the subject of a new and comprehensive retrospective at LACMA—is anything but uncool. Dealing in large-scale abstract expressionist paintings, Martin, like many female artists of her generation, led a rambling life. Starting out in Canada in her youth, Martin moved to Taos in the 50s where she began exploring abstraction. After gaining representation with Betty Parsons—the vanguard art dealer who counted Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Ad Reinhardt among her stable—Martin was convinced to move to New York in 1957.

Throughout the late '50s and '60s, Martin's work simplified into geometric grids, some with oil paint, others with only graphite on paper— culminating perhaps in her 1973 work "On A Clear Day:" 30 screen prints in gray on cream japan paper. "Clear Day" was the last series she made before taking an 18-month road trip and finally ending up back in New Mexico.

From 1974 to 2004 Martin took influence from the Southwest, her paintings becoming radiantly colorful, (despite a return to tones of gray throughout the late '70s and '80s).

"To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind."

AGNES MARTIN will be showing from April 24th - September 11th (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036)