Generous
Structures
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature by Thomas Duncan
Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler by Stuart Krimko
Karl Haendel by Aaron Horst
Wolfgang Tillmans by Eli Diner
Ma by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
The Rat Bastard Protective Association by Pablo Lopez
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews:
Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
Molly Larkey, Aaron Horst,
Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
Stuart Krimko, Matt Stromberg
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Hana Cohn, Eli Diner,
Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
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Roberts and Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Samuel Freeman
2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.
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Ibid.
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601 S. Anderson St.
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Natural
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The Pit
918 Ruberta Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201

Agnes Martin at LACMA

Agnes Martin at LACMA (2016) (installation view). Image copyright of the Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and Museum Associates/LACMA.

The retrospective was thoughtfully housed on the top floor of LACMA’s Broad Contemporary Art building, where the linear scaffolding of the open ceiling—and the pleasant diffusion of natural light into the space—appeared at times to be architectural extensions of the work itself. Following a simple chronological framework, the exhibition presented the mythic “hiatus” that Martin took from painting (and the New York art world) from 1967 to 1972 as the show’s unseen nexus, with her career unfolding in two phases of Before and After. Her temporary, fabled abandonment of painting for a nomadic, humble lifestyle in the New Mexico desert contributes to her mythology, and in many ways buttresses the reserved language commonly used to characterize and historicize her work.

Employing this chronological fracture as a curatorial structure wisely avoids over-categorization; however, it teeters on privileging
 a biographical reading of Martin’s prolific output, a reading that the artist herself was by many accounts vehemently opposed to. In the context of Martin’s ample oeuvre, which comprises both painting and writing, perhaps this disjunction should be framed less as a complete hiatus from creative endeavors and more
 as an immersion in traveling and writing (1)—equally prolific actions that had outsize influence on her drawings and paintings throughout the course of her life.

Agnes Martin, Summer (1964). Watercolor, ink, and gouache on paper, 9.25 x 9.25 inches. Collection of Patricia L Lewy Gidwitz. Image copyright of the Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and courtesy of Pace Gallery, New York.

While the exhibition’s narrative also reaffirmed Martin’s conceptual and material straddling of two male-centric canonical movements—Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism—her work itself transcends these bilateral guideposts. In the catalogue, Tiffany Bell characterizes the feverish energy imbued in Martin’s early, seemingly quiet grid paintings: “as though the energy of a Pollock drip painting
has been stretched out and carefully sustained over time.” (2) While this sentiment astutely counters the notion that Martin’s work is austere and hesitant, it still frames the hyper-macho
 Ab-Ex kingpin as the linguistic default against which her work is measured. If anything, this retrospective asserted that Martin’s work consists of a
 bold language of its own making, 
a language that is self-sustaining beyond the predetermined historical structures that the artist herself shrugged off.

Martin’s affinity for language, particularly as seen in her writing, seeps through the work. The entire exhibition, from serial pieces such as On a Clear Day (1973) and With My Back to the World (1997), to singular paintings such as Homage to Life (2003),
 to several divinely curated rooms dedicated solely to her small-scale drawings and prints, could be read as poetic intonations that ebb and flow within and between works, and that quietly unspool in the interconnected galleries. Her paintings and works on paper reveal a startling generosity and much-discussed poetic sensibility, the terms of which are transparent and readily available for the patient, observant viewer. Her simple means and abstract vocabulary manage 
to avoid appearing stale, generic,
 or static in temperament; on the contrary, her work is mercurial and mutable. The square format, which she employed almost exclusively, eschews the hierarchy of orientation. Even her rarely seen early biomorphic paintings, reminiscent of Arshile Gorky, cement the intrinsic way her work seems to form its own language system, complete with serial marks, grids, and lines as unique graphemes.

Agnes Martin, Untitled (1955). Oil and canvas, 46.5 x 66.25 inches. Private collection. Image copyright of the Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and courtesy of Pace Gallery.

This retrospective served to remind us that abstraction, on Martin’s terms, inhabits a liminal space beyond the muted asceticism of Minimalism and exuberant machismo of Abstract Expressionism—a space where the timbre of her seemingly quiet marks and lines is, upon close inspection, actually incredibly bold and amplified. Here, amplification rests less in loudness, and more in a radical excavation of the very criteria that constitute our perceptions of gestural volume. Martin’s economy of line and form betrays a language with a range so acute that the tonal changes in the work are rendered nearly imperceptible; one has to subliminally readjust focus to decipher her marks as being rooted in an inward-facing, enigmatic sonority as opposed to an extroverted performance of gestural bravado. This is an intimate act that reveals highly attuned expressions of subtlety rather than silence. As Martin herself observes, “we even hear silence when it is not really silent.” (3)

This is subversive quietness, defined not by a lack of visual decibel in relation to Pollock or any of her other contemporaries, but by a tonal intensity and an emotional cognizance that are revolutionary in their precariousness for a woman painter to embrace. The notion of unspoken power masking as silence arguably connects to the narrative recounting Martin’s hiatus from painting as well. Her insertion of a metaphorical pause into the weighted performance of gesture can be read in relation to her interlude from the performance of the artist in the studio.

Based on the modern conception of the artist as a singularly prolific object-maker, a breach in studio productivity unambiguously signals creative impotence, which undermines the mythologized stamina of the virile genius (an image indelibly linked to an artist such as Pollock). Martin’s declaration of an intermission from painting reads as an embrace of vulnerability, as she again dismantles the notion that artistic power stems from a continuous, cacophonous recital of self-expression.

Agnes Martin, Homage to Life (2003). Acrylic and graphite on canvas. 60 x 60 inches. Collection of Leonard and Louise Riggio. Image copyright of the Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and courtesy of Pace Gallery, New York.

Agnes Martin near her house in Cuba, New Mexico (1974). Photo: Gianfranco Gorgoni.

(1) Baas, Jacquelynn. “Agnes Martin: Readings for Writings.” Agnes Martin. Ed. Frances Morris and Tiffany Bell. New York: D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers Inc., 2015.

(2) Bell, Tiffany. “Happiness Is the Goal.” Agnes Martin. Ed. Frances Morris and Tiffany Bell. New York: D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers Inc., 2015.

(3) Martin, Agnes. “Beauty is the Mystery of Life.” Agnes Martin. Ed. Frances Morris and Tiffany Bell. New York: D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers Inc., 2015.

 

Originally published in Carla issue 6.