with her back to the world

Agnes Martin painting with her back to the world:

Martin often described a painting from 1964, The Tree, as her first grid. In fact, she had been making them since at least the beginning of the decade, first by scratching lattices into paint and then by pencilling ruled vertical and horizontal lines on to canvases, sometimes embellishing the hatchings with dabs or lines of colour, even sheets of gold leaf. “Well,” she told an interviewer, “when I first made a grid I happened to be thinking of the innocence of trees and then this grid came into my mind and I thought it represented innocence, and I still do, and so I painted it and then I was satisfied.”


Wood I, 1963. Watercolor and graphite on paper, 15 x 15 1/2 inches (38.1 x 39.4 cm)


Agnes Martin


Maggie Nelson in interview:

I do sometimes feel exhausted with “personal” writing, whatever that means—I’m starting to tire seriously of the phrase. After putting something of that nature out into the world, I typically swear up and down to myself that the next thing is going to be totally scholarly and esoteric, to the point that no one will want to read or publish it, ever. This feels consoling to me, like a condition of possibility for going on.


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