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Untitled #12

Tan thin rectangles repeat across the whole canvas.
© 2018 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • Tan thin rectangles repeat across the whole canvas.




Agnes Martin
American, born Canada, 1912-2004

About this artwork

Agnes Martin mastered a rigorously pared-down idiom that combined painting and drawing. The artist aligned herself with Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko, admiring their investigations of chromatic color schemes, allover compositions, and emotional content. In the 1960s, she developed a vocabulary of grids and graphs that prompted critics to compare her work to the radical simplicity and intellectualism of Minimal and Conceptual artists. Indeed, Untitled #12—a crisply stated graphite grid on a light-gray ground—seems at first to be an exemplar of Minimalism. But close observation reveals a flickering light and extremely refined touch that suggest a spiritual, rather than purely aesthetic, stance. Martin’s deeply solitary nature led her to achieve a quiet, tenuous balance between the material and the immaterial, the sensual and the austere.

The artist stopped painting in 1969; she moved from New York City to a remote, rural area of New Mexico. In 1975, she began to paint again. Although Martin maintained that her art was not abstracted from nature —“Work like mine,” she remarked, “describes the subtle emotions that are beyond words, like music”—the paintings she produced in the Southwest embody the quiet landscapes, even light, and desert tonalities of her surroundings.


On View, Gallery 297


Contemporary Art


Agnes Martin


Untitled #12


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



India ink, graphite, and gesso on canvas


182.9 × 182.9 cm (72 × 72 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund

Reference Number



© 2018 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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