(NEW YORK, NY—October 6, 2016)—From October 7, 2016
|Alexander Liberman, Agnes Martin with level and ladder, 1960. Alexander
Liberman Photography Archive, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.
Photo: © J. Paul Getty Trust
through January 11, 2017, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present a
major retrospective of the work of American painter Agnes Martin
(1912–2004), the first since her death. One of
the preeminent painters of the twentieth century, Martin created subtle
and evocative paintings composed of grids and stripes and frequently
inscribed with penciled lines. Her canvases
significantly influenced artists of her time and subsequent generations.
Often associated with Minimalism yet kindred with the Abstract
Expressionists, Martin was one of the few prominent female artists to
emerge from these prevailingly masculine art movements of the late 1950s
and ’60s. This historic survey, the most comprehensive ever mounted,
features more than 115 works and traces Martin’s career from her
lesser-known paintings of the 1950s to her final canvases of the early
Agnes Martin is organized by Tate Modern,
London, in collaboration with Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York;
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; and the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art. The Guggenheim presentation is cocurated by
Tiffany Bell, Guest Curator, and Tracey Bashkoff, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions.
Complementing the architectural lines of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, Agnes Martin fills
the Guggenheim rotunda and celebrates the full scope of Martin’s
practice by including paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures.
Arranged chronologically, with works on paper interspersed with
paintings, the exhibition features over 20 artworks that are unique to
the New York presentation of the retrospective. Among these is White Flower (1960), which was acquired by the Guggenheim in 1963 and was the first work by the artist to enter any museum collection.
Martin was born in 1912 in Saskatchewan, Canada.
She moved to the United States in 1932 and became a U.S. citizen in
1950. In the 1940s and early ’50s, Martin lived and studied periodically
in the northwestern United States, New Mexico, and New York City. She
obtained degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. In 1957 she
settled in Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan alongside fellow artists
Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, James Rosenquist, Lenore Tawney, and
Jack Youngerman. She established her career as an artist, earning her
first solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1958.
By the mid-1950s, Martin had supplanted the
landscape and figurative watercolors of her formative years, as well as
the biomorphic oil paintings that followed, with experiments in
different mediums. At this time she used found materials and produced large simplified abstractions. Her paintings of the 1960s,
which are distinguished by square formats, grids, penciled lines drawn
on canvas, and compositions with subtle variations in shade and hue,
marked a crossroads in the history of abstraction. With her gentle
inscriptions of penciled lines on subdued fields of wash and color,
Martin established a geometric and spatial language that she would
refine and reinterpret over ensuing decades.
Despite her restrained style—and unlike the rigidly formulaic work of
the Minimalists—Martin maintained a deep conviction in the emotive and
expressive power of art and decidedly handcrafted, delicate surfaces.
Martin left the New York art scene and abandoned
painting in 1967 amid growing interest in her work. In search of
solitude and silence, she traveled across the United States and Canada
for almost two years before finally settling in New Mexico, where she
lived the rest of her life. After a hiatus of several years, Martin
published On a Clear Day (1973), a portfolio of 30 screenprints
of differently proportioned grids and parallel lines. She began painting
again in 1974, turning to stripes as a primary compositional format
while continuing to explore and refine her spare style. She continued
working in this manner until the final years of her life, when she
reintroduced bold geometric forms into her paintings.
Martin often chose titles that suggest a preoccupation with the natural world, such as White Stone (1964) and White Flower,
and throughout her career she maintained a particular interest in using
art to evoke the experience of nature. She was steadfast in her denial
of any representative elements in her work, however, and said about her
subject: “It’s really about the feeling of beauty and freedom that you
experience in landscape. My response to nature is really a response to
beauty. The water looks beautiful, the trees look beautiful, even the
dust looks beautiful. It is beauty that really calls.”
Martin was honored with the Skowhegan Medal of
Painting and Sculpture (1987), Oskar Kokoschka Prize (1992), Golden Lion
at the Venice Biennale (1997), National Medal of Arts (1998), and
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2005), among
Catalogue and Public Programs
Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated catalogue produced by Tate Publishing, featuring 11 essays by leading scholars. Public programming offered in conjunction with the exhibition includes the following highlights:
Complementary Perspectives on Agnes Martin: A Retrospective and a Catalogue Raisonné
Friday, October 28, 5 pm
This presentation by guest curator Tiffany Bell
explores how her research for the catalogue raisonné of Agnes Martin’s
art illuminated stylistic shifts that occurred throughout the artist’s
career. In turn, these discoveries lead to a better understanding of
some of the thematic changes in Martin’s work over the course of her
life. Bell describes how these findings have informed the presentation
of the retrospective. The program concludes with a reception and
exhibition viewing of Agnes Martin.
$15, $10 members, free for students with RSVP. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar.
John Zorn: Music for Agnes Martin
Thursday, December 1 and Friday, December 2, 7 pm
Legendary composer John Zorn assembles a cast of
musicians for an evening of music performed in the Guggenheim’s iconic
rotunda. Zorn’s “Dark River” from his 1995 album Redbird was
inspired by Agnes Martin, and this program serves as the premiere of two
brand-new compositions also inspired by her work, “Praise” and “Blue
Stratagem.” The program concludes with an exhibition viewing of Agnes Martin.
$30, $20 members, $15 students. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar.
Reflections on Agnes Martin
Wednesday, December 14, 6:30 pm
Join esteemed artists Richard Tuttle and Jennie
C. Jones for a discussion about the retrospective on view and personal
reflection on the legacy of Agnes Martin’s life and work. Moderated by
Barbara Haskell. The program concludes with a reception and exhibition
viewing of Agnes Martin.
$15, $10 members, free for students with RSVP. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar. This program is part of the Elaine Terner Cooper Education Fund Conversations with Contemporary Artists series.
Quiet: A Poetry Reading for Agnes Martin
Tuesday, January 10, 6:30 pm
Poets Ari Banias, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and
Souvankham Thammavongsa read selections of their work in honor of Agnes
Martin in an evening curated by artist Jen Bervin. The program concludes
with a reception and exhibition viewing of Agnes Martin.
$15, $10 members, free for students with RSVP. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar.
Programs for Agnes Martin are made possible by the generosity of the Dedalus Foundation.
Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World
Select Fridays, October 7 – December 30, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm
On the occasion of the Agnes Martin retrospective,
the museum offers screenings of this groundbreaking documentary on the
internationally renowned painter, which was filmed from 1998 through
2002 (the artist’s ninetieth year). Interviews with Agnes Martin are
intercut with shots of her at work in her studio in Taos, New Mexico,
photographs and archival footage, and images of her work from over five
decades. Martin speaks about her work, her working methods, her life as
an artist, and her views about the creative process. She also discusses
her own 1976 film, Gabriel,
and reads from her poetry and lectures. In keeping with Martin’s chosen
life of solitude, she alone appears in the documentary. Director Mary
Lance will offer a public Q&A following the 3 pm screening on
October 14. Free with museum admission. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/filmscreenings.
Fridays, October 21, November 18, December 16, 3 pm
On the occasion of the Agnes Martin retrospective, the museum offers special screenings of the artist’s only completed and rarely screened film Gabriel (1976).
The film loosely follows the wanderings of a ten-year-old boy in rural
New Mexico, near to where Martin lived and worked. Gabriel is a
contemplative and fragmentary study of landscape, vision and perceptions
of nature. Each screening is introduced by a Guggenheim exhibition
curator. Free with museum admission. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/filmscreenings.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s presentation of this exhibition is supported by COS.
The Leadership Committee for Agnes Martin
is gratefully acknowledged for its generosity: Pace Gallery, Charles and
Valerie Diker, The Lauder Foundation-Leonard & Judy Lauder Fund,
Mary and John Pappajohn, FX & Natasha de Mallmann, Anne H. Bass,
Peter B. Brandt, Agnes Gund, and those who wish to remain anonymous.
Funding for this exhibition is also provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation and the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.
About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation
of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through
exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications.
The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim
Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao (opened 1997), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in
development). Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues
to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art,
architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum. The foundation
is also committed to fostering research, exhibitions, and collections in
the field of global art through such programs as the Asian Art
Initiative (founded in 2006), the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art
Initiative (founded in 2013), and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation
Chinese Art Initiative (founded in 2013). More information about the
foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.
Admission: Adults $25,
students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. The
Guggenheim’s free app, available with admission or by download to
personal devices, offers an enhanced visitor experience. The app
features content on special exhibitions as well as access to more than
1,600 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. Additionally,
information about the museum’s landmark building is available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Verbal Description guides for select exhibitions are also included for visitors who are blind or have low vision. The Guggenheim app is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri,
10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays,
beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general
information, call 212 423 3500 or visit the museum online at: guggenheim.org