Agnes Martin

On a Clear Day

1973
screenprint on Japanese rag paper, 29/50
304mm x 304mm

signed a martin and inscribed 29/50 in graphite lower edge

Provenance

Private collection, New York.

Acquired from Philips, New York, 2006.

Collections

Another from the edition held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Tate Americas Foundation, New York; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis (acquired 2000); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas.

Essay

For Agnes Martin, art existed as a completely separate entity from the ideas and concepts surrounding it. She viewed writing about art as a somewhat futile exercise, as is made ...

Read full text
Estimate $5,000 - $7,000

Agnes Martin

On a Clear Day

1973

screenprint on Japanese rag paper, 29/50

signed a martin and inscribed 29/50 in graphite lower edge

304mm x 304mm

Auction N˚4

Estimate $5,000 - $7,000

Footnotes
  1. Agnes Martin: Paintings and Drawings 1974-1990 (Amsterdam: Stedeljik Museum, 1991), 15.
  2. David L. McMahan, The Making of Buddhist Modernism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

On A Clear Day

by Andrew Clark

For Agnes Martin, art existed as a completely separate entity from the ideas and concepts surrounding it. She viewed writing about art as a somewhat futile exercise, as is made clear by her lecture “Beauty is the Mystery of Life,” in which she declares that “art work is responded to with happy emotions. Work about ideas is responded to with other ideas. There is so much written about art that it is mistaken for an intellectual pursuit.”¹  Martin also draws a distinction between “art work,” which is fundamentally emotional and expressive, and “work about ideas,” which lacks the capacity to move the spirit which she saw as the essential component of art. Needless to say, Martin’s own work falls into the first category: she felt that her work was about the expression of pure emotion, which the viewer was intended to respond to on an instinctual, almost subconscious level.

Martin’s mature work was schematic and almost procedural in nature, structured around parallel lines and gridded surfaces. The rigid and seemingly diagrammatic nature of these works has engendered a great deal of confusion with regards to Martin’s place in the art historical canon. Martin’s work was exhibited alongside that of minimalists such as Brice Marden and Robert Mangold, but she resisted this interpretation of her practice: she saw herself as an abstract expressionist. While her works are drastically different in nature from the frenzied, aggressive brushwork of a Jackson Pollock or a Franz Kline, they are equally personal, equally expressive of emotional states and the immediacy of the moment of creation. However, the emotions Martin seeks to convey are very different from the energetic posturing of many of her abstract expressionist contemporaries: calmness, focus, tranquillity and, ultimately, happiness itself.