Canada 1912 – United States of America 2004
Untitled III 1982 Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint, pencil, on canvas
Agnes Martin’s paintings are the fruits of meditation. In her small studio she sat and waited for images to appear, and then drew and painted what she saw. A close-up viewing reveals the materiality of the weave of canvas, texture of paint and particles of graphite. From further back an illusion of dematerialised colour takes over, like a misty atmosphere or a pale effulgence of unearthly light. Seen from a distance, the work reverts to something fixed and objective, like mechanically printed graph paper, wallpaper patterns or flannelette bedsheets.
Martin invests geometric art with a metaphysical dimension. For her, art is about the absolute perfection, beauty and happiness experienced when our minds are free. The patterning in Untitled III conveys a balanced and geometric order. Of all her works she said:
They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form … [It] is to accept the necessity of the simple … as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008