Agnes Martin


Born 22 March, in Macklin, Saskatchewan, into a family of Scottish Presbyterian wheat farmers.


Father dies. Family lives with maternal grandfather, whose values of hard work, humility, and egalitarianism will have an imp act on Martin's views as an artist.

1916 - 1919

Moves with mother to Calgary and then Vancouver.


Moves to Bellingham, Washington, with sister.

1934 - 1941

Receives teaching certificate from Western Washington College and teaches public school for four years.


Moves to New York and attends Teachers College, Columbia University. Majors in fine arts and education.


Awarded B.Sc. from Columbia University. Spends next four years painting and teaching in New York.

1946 - 1947

Moves to New Mexico and attends University of Albuquerque. Studies and teaches; paints landscapes and portraits in a loosely naturalistic style.


Becomes an American citizen.

1951 - 1952

Returns to New York, and enrols at Columbia University for an M.A. in fine arts. Becomes interested in Chinese Taoism and Zen, and their ideas of detachment, humility, and acceptance.

1952 - 1957

Returns to New Mexico, where she joins a small group of modern artists in Taos who take their inspiration from nature. Her work becomes increasingly abstract, moving from organic to geometric shapes.


Moves to New York, lives at Coenties Slip, and meets painters Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, and Lenore Tawney (a weaver). Shares their interest in spare, restrained forms.


Has first solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery; work is abstract and geometric, seeking to express ideas of perfection.

1959 - 1966

Continues to live and exhibit in New York; paintings use geometric motifs, uniformly spaced, to suggest feelings of peace and equilibrium.


Quits painting, leaves New York, and travels alone for the next year and a half in the United States and Canada.


Settles in Cuba, New Mexico, where she builds an adobe and log house.


Returns to art making, and produces a portfolio of 30 serigraphs, On a Clear Day (NGC). Uses soft colours and geometric grids. Has first solo exhibition outside the United States, at Kunstraum, Munich.


Returns to painting.


Paints White Flower I (NGC), in which the large light rectangle and delicately drawn lines suggest tranquillity and an infinite formlessness the "space of the stars," as Martin described it.


Receives Golden Lion award for contemporary painting at the Venice Biennale.

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