For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2004

Agnes Martin: Paintings

Nov. 20, 2004–Feb. 13, 2005

photo ©

Agnes Martin was one of the most acclaimed painters in the United States, best known for austerely abstract paintings featuring grid patterns penciled on canvas and for her use of muted, monochromatic color with subtle variations in hue. Often linked to the Minimalism of the 1960s, Martin's work does not fit precisely within the tenets of that movement, although a visual resemblance does exist. Martin can be seen as a spiritual heir to the iconoclasm of many artists working in the Southwest, including Georgia O'Keeffe.

The Islands (1979) is one of very few suites of paintings Martin intended as a set. The paintings can be seen as offering variations on a theme, sharing some of the serial character of work by such peers as Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin, but achieving a contemplative plane that Martin has termed "the renewal of memories of moments of perfection."

The Islands was purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1993 and exhibited there the following year. This installation marks only the second public showing of The Islands in the United States since their acquisition by the Whitney.

Agnes Martin: The Islands represents the second installment of a series highlighting three of the most significant women artists of the late twentieth century-a series that began with the work of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth in 2003 and that will conclude with a look at the work of Helen Frankenthaler.

More information is available in this Gallery Guide.

This exhibition is made possible in part by Lannan Foundation. Educational program support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.