PHYLLIS ODESSEY

20/20

agnes-martin

I was going to call my optometrist. Perambulating around the Guggenheim Museum, looking at the Agnes Martin paintings, I felt my vision was impaired.  Hers wasn’t.  It had to be perfect: infinitesimal changes in color and minuscule pencil lines.  I was in a state of awe.  Even with the grid or maybe because of it you feel the beauty.
early-work

Agnes Martin’s own words say the most about her work.

i-have-worked-as

list-of-jobs

I have worked as…

i-have-lived-in

i have traveled in…

Off to the side, on one of the lower floors of the Guggenheim is the library.  The library is showing two short films on Agnes Martin.  The first one is literally watching paint dry.  The second one is an interview of sorts.  Martin’s speech is slow and halting.  She was 90 when this film was made, which might account for her style of speaking or may have something to do with the fact that she was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and perhaps she was taking drugs for the disease.

i-want-paint-all-year-and-then-at-the-end-of-year

Agnes Martin did not show any work for the first 44 years of her painting life.

i-didnt-show-them-or-sell-them

now-i-have-been-showing-for-forty-four
yes-i-have-practiced-not-thinking-until-now-i-can-not-think-for-the-whole-morning in-the-last-ten-years-i-waited-till-i-was-eighty-and-then-i-thought-i-was-going-to-retire

i-have-painted-600-paintings

the-intellect-paints-ideas-and-the-response-is-more-ideas-you-know

“I want people, when they look at my paintings, to have the same feelings they experience when they look at landscape…It’s really about the feeling of beauty and freedom that you experience in landscape.  My response to nature is really a response to beauty.  The water looks beautiful, the trees look beautiful, even the dust looks beautiful.  It is beauty that really calls.” Agnes Martin
grid

ovals

Advice to Young Women Artists
The life of an artist is inspired self sufficient and independent.  (unrelated to society)  The direction of attention of an artist is toward mind in order to be aware of inspiration.  Following inspiration life unfolds free of any influence.  Finally the artist recognizes himself in the work and is happy. Nothing else will satisfy an artist.  An artistic life is unconventional life.  It leads away from the example of the past. It struggles painfully against its own conditioning. It appears to rebel but in reality it is an inspired way of life. (Published)
-Agnes Martin

As I was reading the above text (in the show this “advice”  is handwritten on ruled paper), a man standing next me said “Isn’t it interesting, the title is Advice to Young Women Artist” but int he text she uses the “himself.”  And I said, “the times they are changin”

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