new-york

Agnes Martin

PaceWildenstein 22

We don’t go to an Agnes Martin exhibition expecting surprise—although good art is always surprising, a source of stimulation rather than the placidity into which memory can sometimes flatten our recollection of work so apparently self—consistent as Martin’s. Eschewing dramatic changes in her approach to painting as much as dramatic conflict within any particular work, Martin depends for her surprises on the degree to which the effects of her paintings can vary within severe limits. On these grounds this was one of her finest exhibitions in some time. The work was even more concentrated and alert to its own vibrations than usual. As before, the paintings consist of horizontal bands, mostly rather broad, of very thin washes in two or three pale colors (in this case, empyreal blues, clayey oranges, pinks, and yellows—the sort of “Southwestern” palette that might be irritatingly decorative

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