Agnes Martin (1912-2004) is one of America’s foremost abstract painters. Although frequently labelled as a Minimalist and closely affiliated with artists such as Donald Judd and Carl Andre, Martin always described herself as an Abstract Expressionist. As a young painter in New York during the 1950s, the influences of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman proved particularly important to Martin. She similarly rejected recognisable forms, and strived to represent infinite space in a quest for the sublime.
Martin’s concern for conveying emotional content rather than ideas, and belief in the truth of unfettered inspiration over intellectualism set Martin apart from her contemporaries. The qualities of beauty and perfection evident in Martin’s paintings bear testimony to the artist’s spiritualism and disciplined approach to life. Famously claiming that she ‘painted with her back to world’, Martin refused to acknowledge the impact of any given environment upon her work. Nonetheless, the landscape of New Mexico is effectively conjured in the shimmering horizontal bands of ochres, pinks and myriad blues Martin began using following her move South in the 1970s. [Extract : Timothy Taylor Gallery]