Agnes Martin

American, born Canada

1912, Macklin, Canada
2004, Taos, New Mexico

Biography
Agnes Martin (1912–2004) evokes joy, beauty, and perfection with her grid paintings, geometric abstractions, and muted color palette. Born in Canada, Martin immigrated to the U.S. in 1932 and worked for many years as a teacher and painter in New Mexico and New York. At age forty-five she moved to Coenties Slip, Manhattan, where she lived alongside such artists as Lenore Tawney, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Indiana. In the late 1950s she began producing square compositions based on grids using subdued colors, loosely ruled graphite lines, and painted bands. Influenced by Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and transcendentalism, she considered her work a reflection of the innocence and beauty of nature. Martin returned to New Mexico in 1968 and, after a hiatus of several years, continued to create abstract paintings, drawings, and prints, moving from grids to pastel stripes and geometric forms. Though Martin identified as an Expressionist, her work also resembles Minimal and Color Field painting. Her intricate compositions reward the viewer who slows down and looks closely.

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.

Subscribe to the SFMOMA Newsletter

Our monthly dose of videos, essays, art stories and more. Straight to your inbox.