Agnes Martin: Her Life And Art by Nancy Princenthal

By Nancy Princenthal

The 1st biography of visionary artist Agnes Martin, essentially the most unique and influential painters of the postwar interval. Over the process a occupation that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin's austere, serene paintings expected and helped to outline Minimalism, while she battled mental crises and carved out a solitary life within the American Southwest. Martin pointed out with the summary Expressionists yet her dedication to linear geometry prompted her to be linked in flip with Minimalist, feminist, or even outsider artists. She moved via many of the liveliest artwork groups of her time whereas preserving a mythical reserve. "I paint with my again to the world," she says either at the start and on the end of a documentary filmed whilst she used to be in her past due eighties. while she died at ninety-two, in Taos, New Mexico, it truly is acknowledged she had no longer learn a newspaper in part a century.

No enormous serious monograph exists in this acclaimed artist—the recipient of 2 profession retrospectives in addition to the nationwide Medal of the Arts—who was once championed by means of critics as various of their techniques as Lucy Lippard, Lawrence Alloway, and Rosalind Krauss. in addition, no try out has been made to explain her striking lifestyles. the entire engrossing tale, advised right here for the 1st time, Agnes Martin is key studying for a person drawn to summary artwork or the historical past of girls artists in the US.

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On one hand, it causes modernists to ask whether the multitude might evolve all the powers of critique, direction, and self-suspension embodied in the vanguard party, even without the centralized, bureaucratic agents who are supposed to personify these powers. On the other, it causes them to worry that this political ideal is nothing but a fantasy — one that all too easily conceals the process whereby popular leaders who are bent on accumulating power consolidate and centralize their rule. Because of its concern with modernism’s relationship to mass parties and mass movements, Michael Tratner’s Modernism and Mass Politics is a particularly important forerunner to this book.

Thy whole soul stands in me,”72 or the Russian Futurists’ vanguardist proclamation, “We alone are the face of our time,”73 has no equivalent in the works I analyze, whose moments of cosmic rhetoric are so tenuous and awkward that they immediately mobilize forms of self-consciousness and critique. No doubt this signals Anglo-American modernism’s distance from the continental vanguard parties of both the right and the left, whose rhetorical forms and modes of organization saturated experimental writing in much of Europe.

INTRODUCTION . 19 The Literature of the Multitude The works I analyze in this book all share this figural ambition, the desire to make visible spontaneous patterns of collective existence that contain the elements of social and artistic order. Williams’s epic poem Paterson, Lewis’s closet drama Enemy of the Stars, Riding’s lyric poems “Disclaimer of the Person” and “I Am,” and Stevens’s long poem “Owl’s Clover” all represent these virtual orders as implicit in the multitude. As such, these works belong to a subtradition of modernism that might be called the literature of the multitude.

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