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.
Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- Agnes Martin
- Untitled #12
- United States
- India ink, graphite, and gesso on canvas
- 182.9 × 182.9 cm (72 × 72 in.)
- Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund
- © 2018 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York