Agnes Martin
1912 – 2004

Born in Maklin, Saskatchewan in 1912, Agnes Martin would become renowned for her use of faint colors and precise lines, often forming intricate grid-like designs.  Due to the spare and subtle designs of her artwork, she was often classified by critics as a Minimalist painter, but she preferred to think of herself instead as an Abstract Expressionist.  Martin’s father, a wheat farmer, passed away when she was only two years old.  Her mother took up the task of supporting the family, which she did by purchasing, renovating and then re-selling property.  Most of Martin’s youth was spent in Vancouver, British Columbia, where her family had moved after her father’s death.

In the early 1930’s, Martin moved to the United States, settling in Bellingham, Washington.  Although she had a decided interest in art, drawing from an early age, Martin chose instead to pursue a teaching career.  From 1935 to 1938, she attended the Western Washington College of Education in Bellingham.  For roughly the next decade, Martin would be immersed in her teaching career, earning both a bachelors and masters degree from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York as well as teaching in various High Schools throughout the country.  It was during this time that Martin became a United States Citizen.

Throughout her time as a teacher, Martin never lost interest in art and continued to develop her skills, painting in her free time.  Following participation in a study program at the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico, a town that attracted many artists due to its locale in the mountains, she decided to settle there and begin a career as a painter.  She struggled at first, finding it difficult to sell her art until she caught the attention of Betty Parsons in 1957.  Parsons was an artist and gallery owner, and she convinced Martin to move to New York with the incentive of a solo exhibition, which occurred in the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1958.

Encouraged and influenced by her immersion in the New York art scene, she shifted away from the landscapes and portraits she had previously worked in and began painting Abstract works, developing the style for which she would become best recognized.  Although she had become a successful and acclaimed painter, by 1967 Martin, a generally quiet and private person, was becoming overwhelmed by the art scene lifestyle.  When the building she lived in was slated for demolition, Martin decided to abandon New York at the height of her career, relocating to New Mexico.  For the next seven years she did not paint at all, spending her self imposed exile writing and building several structures on her property.

In 1974, Martin resumed painting, although this time on her own terms.  She remained in the New Mexico area and pursued a more private and isolated lifestyle than she had as an artist in New York.  She passed away in 2004 at a retirement home in Taos.

Collections Include:
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
Allen Art Museum at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Harvard University Museum of Art, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

1912 – Agnes Martin born in  Maklin, Saskatchewan, Canada
1914 – Martin’s father passes away
1932 – Moves to Bellingham, Washington
1942 – B.S. Columbia University, New York, New York
1950 – Becomes a United States Citizen
1952 – M.A. Columbia University, New York, New York
1957 – Contacted by Betty Parsons, moves to New York, New York
1958 – First solo exhibition held at the Betty Parsons Gallery
1967 – Returns to New Mexico, ceases painting
1974 – Resumes painting
2004 – Dies in Taos, New Mexico

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