Selected Quotations from Agnes Martin

In balance with my previous entry, here is some writing that makes me only want to paint.  Agnes Martin’s work is influenced by Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Her writing is helpful to me not only for art but for living as well.


About Art:

“In our minds there is awareness of perfection… Beauty is an awareness in the mind. It is a mental and emotional response we make. We respond to life as though it were perfect.”

“All art work is about beauty; all positive work represents and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives.”

“Abstract or non objective feelings are a very important part of our lives. Personal emotions and sentimentality are anti-art.”

About the Artist:

“It is not in the role of an artist to worry about life – to feel responsible for creating a better world. This is a very serious distraction.  All of your conditioning has been directed toward intellectual living. This is useless in art work.”

“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.”

“The newest trend and the art scene are unnecessary distractions for a serious artist. He will be much more rewarded responding to art of all times and places.”

“To feel confident and successful is not natural to the artist. To feel insufficient, to experience disappointment and defeat in waiting for inspiration is the natural state of mind of an artist. As a result praise to most artists is a little embarrassing. They cannot take credit for inspiration, for we can see perfectly, but we cannot do perfectly. Many artists live socially without disturbance to the mind, but others must live the inner experiences of mind, a solitary way of living.”

About Life:

“You never rest with nature, it’s a hungry thing. Every animal that you meet is hungry. Not that I don’t believe in eating but I just want to make the distinction between art and eating. This painting I like because you can get in there and rest. The satisfaction of appetite happens to be impossible.  The satisfaction of appetite is frustrating. So it’s always better to be a little bit hungry.  That way you contradict the necessity”

“Being detached and impersonal is related to freedom. That’s the answer for inspiration. The untroubled mind… Painting is not about ideas or personal emotion… Now I’m very clear that the object is freedom. Not political freedom, which is the echo, not freedom from social mores. Freedom from mastery and slavery; freedom from what’s dragging you down; freedom from right and wrong… When you give up the idea of right and wrong, you don’t get anything. What you do is get rid of everything freedom from ideas and responsibility. If you live by inspiration then you do what comes to you. You can’t live the moral life, you have to obey destiny. You can’t live the inspired life and live the conventions. You can’t make promises. The future’s a blank page.”

About Her Own Work:

“I used to paint mountains her in New Mexico and I thought, my mountains look like ant hills. I saw the plains driving out of New Mexico and I thought, the plain had it, just a plane. If you draw a diagonal, that’s loose at both ends. I don’t like circles – too expanding. When I draw horizontals you see this big plane and you have certain feelings like you’re expanding over the plane.”

Agnes Martin, Falling Blue, 1962, Oil and Graphite on Canvas, 71 7/8″ by 72″

Agnes Martin, Untitled, 1960, Ink on Paper, 11 7/8″ by 12 7/8″



This entry was written by Sarvey and published on December 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm. It’s filed under Influences and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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