Until today, I’d never heard of an artist named Agnes Martin. In a post on the All My Eyes blog, Life Imitates Art?, Martin’s work was compared to a spreadsheet, so I Googled to learn more about her, and see her work.
To my surprise, she’s a Canadian artist, born in Saskatchewan in 1912, and raised in Vancouver. Later, Martin moved to the USA and became a citizen there, eventually settling in New Mexico.
Her art is described in The Washington Post as a, "tight, orderly form of geometric abstraction, ingeniously arranging subtly shaded oil and acrylic paints on large, six-foot-square canvases."
This quote, from Agnes Martin: Writings/Schriften, made me think of an Excel worksheet, and perhaps this is the reason that the cells aren’t square:
My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a sort of contradiction, a dissonance, though I didn’t set out to do it that way. When I cover the square surface with rectangles, it lightens the weight of the square, destroys its power.
One of her paintings, Starlight, sold in 2008 for over $500K, so it’s not just spreadsheet users who appreciate the beauty in a grid.
Agnes Martin Interview
You can see more of Agnes Martin’s work in this video interview.