Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin Interview (20:00 version, 1997) from Chuck Smith on Vimeo.

Agnes Martin (March 22, 1912 – December 16, 2004) was a Canadian-American painter, often referred to as a minimalist; Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist.

"I think everybody is born to do a certain thing. And they ought to study themselves, find out what they like and what they don’t like and everything, and try to find out exactly what they’re supposed to do. Everybody’s rushing so much in this life they don’t take time to really look and find out what their response is, even to their own work."

"Artwork is a representation of our devotion to life," Agnes Martin once wrote. "The enormous pitfall is devotion to oneself instead of to life. All works that are self-devoted are absolutely ineffective."

"When I decided to paint, I knew I didn’t want to paint about this world, & nature. I wanted to paint abstract. The most obvious abstract emotion is happiness. So I paint a lot of paintings about happiness. I paint about happiness, innocence, & beauty: the feelings that we have that go beyond the world, that have no worldly cause"

"All my work is above the line. I don’t paint anything depressing (laughs.) To live above the line, you have to think ‘I want to be good. I want to be good every minute.’ And you only pay attention to things that you like, you know. When you go to the museum, you just look at the paintings you like. You don’t look at the ones you don’t like, stop & criticize, and all that."

"Any material may be used but the theme is the same and the response is the same for all artwork... we all have the same concern, but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He must pursue the truth relentlessly."
"People think that they have to understand art, but that’s not right. Understanding is, you know, the bind. Contradiction & correction, that’s all…oh boy...”

"Well, sometimes I paint about tranquility. I have a lot of paintings about tranquility. It doesn’t matter where you are – if you bring your mind to a stop you’ll feel a light, delicate happiness. That’s tranquility. You’ve stopped."

"You don’t have to listen to anybody about anything. Whatever you want, you get.”

"Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings."

"Happiness is being on the beam with life - to feel the pull of life."

"My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind."

"To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind."
"When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection."
"Beauty and happiness and life are all the same and they are pervasive, unattached and abstract and they are our only concern. They are immeasurable, completely lacking in substance. They are perfect and sublime. This is the subject matter of art."

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