Sunday, March 27, 2011

Agnes Martin and Susan Rothenberg

Agnes Martin: Richard Tuttle

Just a quick note on a couple of art books I picked up at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.  I was there for lunch and on the way out saw a table of books for sale on clearance.   In addition, one of the books was about Agnes Martin whose work has always interested me so my purchase decision was both impulsive and easy.

In Agnes Martin Richard Tuttle, Michael Auping of The Modern has paired two artists who are friends but otherwise share very little common ground, at least on the surface. I'll just focus on Martin.   You may recognize her as the lady who paints graph paper.  As an engineer, that's part of the appeal.  We live and work on graph paper so it's interesting to see exactly what she's trying to accomplish with her work.  Cutting right to the chase, she's creating "a perfectly non-attached space," a ground from which to contemplate who you are in a "plane of attention and awareness."  I will push the engineering analogy too far by saying that's what we use graph paper for - a regularized grid upon which we can contemplate and create our designs.

In Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place, Auping presents the work of a painter who not only brings figuration back to abstraction but also seems to feature an incredible amount of motion in her works.  In fact, unlike Martin there's virtually no grounding at all which enhances the visual movement.  But one particular painting (Cabin Fever) adds a single vertical line (reminiscent of one of Martin's lines) through the image of a galloping horse that completely arrests the movement.

So for a couple of hours of Saturday afternoon reading, there's a nice contrast between two artists: one who provides a static, grounded plane and another whose painting are visually kinetic.  Whether at rest or in motion both are a pleasure to view.  If forced to express a preference, I'll go with Martin.
Agnes Martin, Praise, 1976

Susan Rothenberg, Cabin Fever, 1976


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John said...

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