Posted in Art and Artists, Research & Reflection

In the Studio: Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin is giving me a bit of a philosophical challenge. From what I can see I think I’d quite like her work, but the meaning discussed about her body of work seems quite “Emperor’s new clothes”. She is definitely an artist where the work doesn’t translate to internet based images. The body of is based around the imperfections of hand making around the “perfect” grid concept.

Curator Leah Dickerman describes it as:

“in these works there’s a tension between the regularity of the grid and the handmade quality of the lines. And this focuses our attention on time, both the process of making, but also the process of looking at a work of art. It’s not a kind of picture that you can take in quickly, in a quick instance and see all at once. I do think it’s a commentary on the ambitions of a technological society in which regularity and standardization are key.”, from, URL Viewed 20/07/2017

Her work process involves brining out imperfections in geometric patterns. In the demonstration video a canvas is roughly primed with a couple of thin layers of acrylic primer. Bubbles and drips aren’t just allowed but encouraged. A thin wash base colour is added, with acrylic paints. A bit of the primer is added in to lighten it. Next a border is added with masking tape, and a grid drawn in pencil. This grid is visible in the final work, and the fact that it will bounce around and “dither” is part of the work. The whole is sanded lightly to increase, rather than decrease, imperfections. The next layer starts the mix with a bit of the base colour and adds in gloss and a much deeper colour.

Agnes Martin Links:

Friendship, 1963

  • Gold leaf with sgraffito scratching technique
  • Scratching back reveals the underlying red bole
  • Glowing gold with matt imperfect lines

Untitled No. 1, 1981

  • Very thin “waterered down” acrylic
  • 4 major bands of colour, each made of smaller bands.
  • Colour pattern is irregular, although at a distance it doesn’t seem so

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