The Guggenheim Museum in New York is featuring an Agnes Martin exhibition. I was vaguely aware of her name, guessing she was an American painter, during the 50’s and 60’s…..or so I thought.
Well, the more I read about her, the more fascinated I am. Here are at least seven interesting facts about Agnes Martin to pique your curiosity…..
~Agnes Martin was a Canadian. She was born in Macklin, Saskatchewan. (Further evidence that there is always another Saskatchewan town you’ve never heard of before!) Her birthday is March 22, 1912, the same year as Jackson Pollock.
~She was a talented swimmer, and in her teen years, was a contender for the Olympic team. She trained as a teacher, and taught in the Pacific Northwest before she turned her attentions, at age 29, to studying and making art.
~ When she lived and painted in Manhattan in the 50’s and 60’s, she hung out with artists like Elsworth Kelly and Robert Indianna.
~In 1967, she gave up everything, bought a truck and an Airstream trailer and disappeared, heading west……
~18 months later, she ‘appeared’ in New Mexico. She hand built her own one room adobe house, as well as a separate studio on a remote mesa. She lived a monastic-like life, and eventually resumed painting.
~Agnes Martin painted until the end of her long life. She moved into a retirement home in 1992, and indulged in a white BMW she used to drive to her studio. She worked through 2003, and died in December 2004.
If you want to learn, or read more, there’s a wealth of great writing and film about Agnes Martin. Even if you only have a minute to spare, click here to see an excellent, short (yes! 1 minute and 19 seconds) video about Agnes Martin and the current exhibition at the Guggenheim. (It’s worth it just to see some gorgeous shots of the museum.) Here is the (brief!) Guggenheim’s biography of Agnes Martin. For a more detailed discussion of her life, and her work, this article from The Guardian is excellent.