Beauty, Innocence, Happiness

August 30, 2016

Today I am launching the first in a series of blogs focusing on art works and artists I encounter in the Chicago area and during my travels. I am kicking it off with a look at Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004), an abstract expressionist...

Photo of "Nightsea" by Agnes Martin Courtesy of RugsandBones-Viola.blogspot

Art has always been a huge inspiration for me and you know that I love to share what I discover! So today I am launching the first in a series of blogs called "Art Works," focusing on art and artists I encounter in the Chicago area and during my travels. I am kicking it off with a look at Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004), an abstract expressionist whose work I saw for the first time earlier this month with my good California friend Connie McCreight, who has fueled my love for art.

Photo of "Untitled" by Agnes Martin Courtesy of WikiArt.com

The retrospective of Martin’s work was at the wonderful Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and I was completely mesmerized by the extremely minimalist way Martin expresses herself. I feel a bit like we’re kindred spirits – she also was a huge fan of Mark Rothko, another abstract expressionist whose work I saw in the Rothko Chapel in Texas, below.

  Photo Courtesy of Menil.org

Martin was a contemporary of Rothko’s and a pioneer of abstraction. She was one of the few prominent and influential female artists of the late 1950s and ‘60s, though she was a recluse, living for many years in tiny New Mexico towns. While her early work focused on biomorphic shapes (suggestive of nature) I prefer the fascinating grids, fields of color and striped canvases that became her trademark. Can you see the barest hint of a white flower in Martin's canvas below?

  Photo of "White Flower" by Agnes Martin Courtesy of ContemporaryArtsem.wordpress.com

Martin evolved a style of drawing subtle penciled lines over soft expanses of wash and color to create something new and Zen-like. In fact, she was inspired by a Zen Buddhist scholar at one point and became interested in Asian thinking. She once said she wanted to instill each painting with “beauty, innocence and happiness,” and she achieved that for me.  She also said that for her, “Beauty and perfection are the same. They never occur without happiness,” and I have to agree.  Her work is beautiful perfection, and it certainly makes me happy! It is extremely quiet and soothing - I could look at it every day and never get tired of it. If Martin’s work is ever exhibited in Chicago I’ll let you know! It’s definitely worth a visit.

 

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