top of page

Agnes Martin

Artist 179

Agnes Martin

Abstract Expressionist


Agnes Bernice Martin (born 1912) was a Canadian-born American abstract painter. Her work has been defined as an "essay in discretion on inward-ness and silence".

Although she is often considered or referred to as a minimalist, Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist. She existed in a league of her own that defies easy categorization.

Intensely private and spiritual, Martin explained her process in that her paintings came to her fully formed, the size of postage-stamps, which she would translate onto large-scale canvases.

Martin's early works consisted of self-portraits, a few watercolor landscapes, and some biomorphic paintings in subdued colors between 1955 and 1957.

However, she did her best to seek out and destroy paintings from the years when she was taking her first steps into abstraction.

Inspired by artist Mark Rothko Martin pared down to the most reductive elements to encourage a perception of perfection and to emphasize transcendent reality.

Her signature style was defined by an emphasis upon line, grids, and fields of extremely subtle color.

While minimalist in form, however, these paintings were quite different in spirit from those of her other minimalist counterparts, retaining small flaws and unmistakable traces of the artist's hand; she shied away from intellectualism, the theory that knowledge is wholly or mainly derived from pure reason; rationalism and instead favored the personal and spiritual.

Her paintings, statements, and influential writings often reflected an interest in Eastern philosophy, especially Taoist. Because of her work's added spiritual dimension, which became more and more dominant after 1967, she preferred to be classified as an abstract expressionist.

Sources Consulted:…/…/g7916/best-female-artists/


bottom of page