Agnes Martin, 1912 – 2004

Untitled #7

Acrylic and graphite on canvas
183 x 183 cm
Formerly collection of Magasin III

My paintings have neither object nor space nor line nor anything—no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form.   Agnes Martin

From the 1960s onward, Agnes Martin contemplatively explored the grid motif in her paintings. For four decades, she filled large square canvases with seemingly infinite variations of straight lines, aspiring to evoke a classical perfection that she believed existed only in the mind. Breaking away from traditional composition techniques designed to lead the eye, she favored compositions with uncertain depth and direction. Agnes Martin saw herself as an Abstract Expressionist inspired by metaphysical concepts taken from intellectual traditions such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism.

Untitled #7 is the last in a series of sequentially numbered canvases from 1991. In this painting she has omitted all vertical lines, allowing broad horizontal bands of grey paint and delicately drawn pencil lines to float across the surface and expand beyond the edge of the canvas. The composition encompasses the viewer’s field of vision on a canvas that Agnes Martin herself described as “a size you can walk into.”

My work deals with emotions, not personal emotions but abstract emotions. It deals with those indefinable and sublime moments of joy that we can all experience.   Agnes Martin

Bronwyn Griffith, Curator of Collection Research/Senior Registrar, September 2012