Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Georgia O' Keeefe? Not really.

In to be in an artistic environment, she moved to New York. However, in time, she became disenchanted with the hubbub and distraction. She could not hear her own muse. To quiet her world, she moved to Taos, New Mexico.

By now, you are probably thinking: RA must be describing Georgia O'Keeffe. Actually not. The artist who also found her voice in the southwest was Agnes Martin (1912-2004). Ever heard of her?

I was first introduced to Martin in an oil painting class. My teacher was bent on introducing us to abstract painting. I found a book of her work and was taken by the luminosity of her paintings. Her paintings are deceptively simple lines and grids. It would be easy to dismiss her works if you relied solely on web images because her lines and colors are so subtle.

Martin did not start painting immediately upon settling in Taos.In fact,seven year would pass before she began painting again. During the hiatus, she revisited the concepts of Zen Buddhism and Taoism she had studied in college. When she took up the brush, her paintings were based on emotional expression and inspiration and not about intellectualism. (Morris Graves and Mark Tobey also were inspired by Eastern philosophies - see December, 2009, in Archives on the right.)

To quote Agnes Martin: "... light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness."

In May, 2006, the Orange County Museum curated an exhibit featuring four women artists who had found inspiration in the sparseness of the desert. Of the four, one was O'Keeffe and the other was Martin.


  1. I knew of her but I have never seen her work in person. I'd sure like to. I've been told it has to be seen to be appreciated. Len

  2. Thank you RA. I never heard of her. Connie

  3. Again, you enrich my life immensely with your ruminations. Thank you. Miriam

  4. I had the priviledge of seeing a show of her work at the museum when I lived in Taos. The pieces were very large and very simple, but some were like optical illusions. I had not heard of her until I moved to Taos. She was in her eighties then, I believe. Thanks for the reminding me of her work.