Martin and the four horsemen of Minimalism


Wonderful Roberta Smith review in the NY Times yesterday of a show of early work by Agnes Martin at Dia Beacon. (Speaking of Martin, shown in a 1992 photograph by Mary Ellen Mark)

Smith trashes the DIA Beacon site for a few paragraphs before weighing in on the subject at hand. When she does, her typical, punchy style and phrase coinage makes for a great read. I loved in particular when she talks about artists Martin met between 1957 and 1967 when she moved to New York, including “the four horsemen of Minimalism, Frank Stella, Robert Morris, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin.”

Smith says Martin was between camps (not an ab ex painter, not a geometrician, not Minimalist). Here’s a passage.

[work like Martin’s] accrued from many, many small units, repeated over relatively large expanses of canvas, until they achieved a transforming force. In Ms. Martin’s case, this was a kind of abstract beatitude: floating disembodied fields and hazes of color and light, which upon closer examination are triggered by surprisingly mundane causes.

Highly recommended reading. Made me want to go to Beacon.


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