Agnes Martin

From the early ’60s to the late ’80s, the grid in Agnes Martin’s work shifts from relative differentiation to relative undifferentiation—to an increasing sense of entropy. Her early grids are constituted by small, obviously handmade marks—confirming the “naturalness” signalled by such titles as Gray Stone II, 1961 and Milk River, 1963—that seem to undermine the axiomative uniformity of the grid, however unassailable it remains. In contrast, the surfaces of the later, untitled grids seem almost inhumanly slick, as though made by a robotic hand. One wonders if the abstract sublime has not turned into tedium vitae.

The grid has all the simplicity and dull-ness of eternity, but Martin initially tried to make it timely, “touching,” and subliminally complicated through texture. She “rearranged” it as much as seemed possible without disintegrating it, experimentally narrowing or broadening the

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