new-york

Agnes Martin

The Pace Gallery | 508 W 25th Street

Reductive abstractionists often back themselves into a corner with color. When structural variation is reduced from the start, or after repetition grows weary, there isn’t much more left to work with. In her last show, Agnes Martin flirted with color—pale orange and pink, and pale blue. It was a kind of naive representation of atmospheric, “poetic” color, and it was obvious that she had no feeling for, no idea about, color. After all those years of repression, it was probably too much for Martin to break out with some convincing or genuine account of color. It was nevertheless an interesting try because I think I understood the attempt. The foray into color was short. The thing about Martin—as we learn from the new show—is that she’s devilishly smart concerning her own deficiencies; she retreats from failures as speedily as she repeats her successes.

The new paintings are thus familiar

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