Martin, Agnes (1912-2004)

Internationally acclaimed artist Agnes Martin was born in Macklin, Saskatchewan. When her father died in 1914, the family went to live with her grandfather, devout Presbyterian Robert Kinnon, before moving to Calgary and Vancouver, where Martin grew up. She moved to the United States in 1931, and became a US citizen in 1950. Martin pursued a teaching profession, majoring in fine arts and education, with graduate work at the University of New Mexico. In 1957 she moved to New York, where her art was shown in the Betty Parsons Gallery, the centre of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her work, reflecting the Taoist rejection of ego, evolved into characteristic “grid” and “line” paintings, using a geometric vocabulary to express concepts of space, nature, beauty, order, and perfection. Returning to the mesas of New Mexico in 1967, Martin stopped painting for a time, but resumed work in 1974. In her long career, Martin has garnered international acclaim and influenced scores of artists. Her work, exhibited worldwide, was welcomed in Saskatchewan at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in 1995. The sparse geometry of her art reminded many of the beauty of the Saskatchewan plains. In November 2003, her painting “Leaves” (1966) sold at an auction in New York for US$2.5 million - an artist record. She continued to work in Taos, New Mexico until her death on December 16, 2004.

Merle Massie

Further Reading

Haskell, B. 1992. Agnes Martin. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art; MacKenzie Art Gallery. 1995. Agnes Martin. Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery.