Over the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin's austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism, even as she battled psychological crises and carved out a solitary existence in the American Southwest. 'I paint with my back to the world', she claimed; when she died at ninety-two, in Taos, New Mexico, it is said she had not read a newspaper in half a century. Nancy Princenthal tells her whole story chronologically - from Martin's birth in Saskatchewan and her early years as an artist, living in derelict Manhattan shipping lofts as neighbour to Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and others of their ilk; to the seven years she stopped painting, just as her career was taking off; the months she spent roaming the country in a pick-up truck; and her last thirty years, in Taos, in an adobe house she built with her own hands. Nancy Princenthal has written the essential Agnes Martin biography; a must-read for anyone interested in abstract painting or the history of women artists in America.
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