New/_Proposed Acquisitions/2016/PA2016.48.jpeg


Faint graphite lines divide Untitled #5 into nine equal bands; the hand-drawn marks lend the canvas a sense of rhythm. Inspired by nature but resolutely abstract, Agnes Martin’s spare paintings are, in her words, “about the infinite”—a subtle nod to her interest in Eastern philosophies such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism. As Martin later explained, “I want to draw… an experience of simple joy.”

Scale plays a central role in Martin’s work. From the mid-1970s on, the artist made paintings almost exclusively in this six-foot-square format. For her, it was “a good size because it’s as big as everybody…you can just feel like stepping into it.” In this way, Martin’s compositions take on an immersive, almost hypnotic quality.