Agnes Martin

Agnes
Martin
1912
2004

Canadian-born American Abstract Painter

Author Quotes

All artwork is about beauty; all positive work represents it and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives. When a beautiful rose dies, beauty does not die because it is not really in the rose. Beauty is an awareness in the mind. It is a mental and emotional response that we make. We respond to life as though it were perfect. When we go into a forest we do not see the fallen rotting trees. We are inspired by a multitude of uprising trees. We even hear a silence when it is not really silent. When we see a newborn baby we say it is beautiful ? perfect.

I have been talking directly to artists, but it applies to all. Take advantage of the awareness of perfection in your mind. See perfection in everything around you. See if you can discover your true feelings when listening to music. Make happiness your goal. The way to discover the truth about this life is to discover yourself. Say to yourself, ?What do I like and what do I want?? Find out exactly what you want in life. Ask your mind for inspiration about everything.

It's through discipline and tremendous disappointment and failure that you arrive at what it is you must paint.

There are two parts of the mind. The outer mind that records facts and the inner mind that says "yes" and "no." When you think of something that you should do, the inner mind says "yes" and you feel elated. We call this inspiration. For an artist this is the only way. There is no help anywhere. He must listen to his own mind.

Any material may be used but the theme is the same and the response is the same for all artwork... we all have the same concern, but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He must pursue the truth relentlessly.

I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very far from being perfect - completely removed in fact - even as we ourselves are.

My paintings are certainly nonobjective. They're just horizontal lines. There's not any hint of nature. And still everybody responds, I think.

There is happiness that we feel without any material stimulation. We may wake up in the morning feeling happy for no reason. Abstract or nonobjective feelings are a very important part of our lives. Personal emotions and sentimentality are anti-art.

Anything can be painted without representation.

I often paint tranquility. If you stop thinking and rest, then a little happiness comes into your mind. At perfect rest you are comfortable.

My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.

There's nobody living who couldn't stand all afternoon in front of a waterfall .... Anyone who can sit on a stone in a field awhile can see my painting. Nature is like parting a curtain, you go into it .... as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.

Art is responded to with emotion ? and the best art is music ? that?s the highest form of art. It?s completely abstract, and we make about eight times as much response to music than any of the other arts.

I once taught art to adults in a night course. I had a woman who painted her back yard, and she said it was the first time she had ever really looked at it. I think everyone sees beauty. Art is a way to respond

Of all the pitfalls in our paths and the tremendous delays and wanderings off the track, I want to say that they are not what they seem to be. I want to say that all that seems like fantastic mistakes are not mistakes, all that seems like error is not error; and it all has to be done. That which seems like a false step is the next step.

To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind.

Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.

I paint with my back to the world.

Out emotional life is really dominant over our intellectual life, but we do not realize it. You must discover the artwork that you like, and realize the response that you make to it. You must especially know the response that you make to your own work. It is in this way that you discover your direction and the truth about yourself. If you do not discover your response to your own work, you miss the reward. You must look at the work and know how it makes you feel.

To rebel against others is just as futile. You must find your way.

Artwork is the only work in the world that is unmaterialistic. All other work contributes to human welfare and comfort. You can see from this that human welfare and comfort are not the interests of the artist. He is irresponsible because his life goes in a different direction. His mind will be involved with beauty and happiness. It is possible to work at something other than art and maintain this state of mind and be moving ahead as an artist. The un-material interest is essential.

I think our minds respond to things beyond this world. Take beauty: it's a very mysterious thing, isn't it? I think it's a response in our minds to perfection. It's too bad, people not realizing that their minds expand beyond this world.

Pollock was terrific. I think he freed himself of all kinds of worry about this world. Ran around and dripped, and then he managed to express ecstasy.

We make artwork as something that we have to do, not knowing how it will work out. When it is finished we have to see if it is effective. Even if we obey inspiration we cannot expect all the work to be successful. An artist is a person who can recognize failure. If you were a composer you would not expect everything you played to be a composition. It is the same in the graphic arts. There are many failures.

Beauty and happiness and life are all the same and they are pervasive, unattached and abstract and they are our only concern. They are immeasurable, completely lacking in substance. They are perfect and sublime. This is the subject matter of art.

Author Picture
First Name
Agnes
Last Name
Martin
Birth Date
1912
Death Date
2004
Bio

Canadian-born American Abstract Painter