Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"... a perfect space"

If yesterday was hard and soft, today is about the way the object reaches into its space. Take a Taos, New Mexico doorway, for example, which is the object but also changes the light around it:

See how the door breaks into the outdoors, the flowers come towards us, the colors come away from the adobe finish...

Now take a detail of my sketch of a Southwestern rock formation, a vase, nearly, with a tree growing against one curved side:

Again, it's an object in outline, but because it doesn't fit our idea of "rock," we see the space around it more clearly...

Now, last, an Agnes Martin drawing. She has said, "I'm not trying to describe anything. I'm looking for a perfect space."  She does not have the object-and-surrounding-space distinction. We saw her specially-constructed gallery of paintings at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos... she gave them the seven works in the 1990's, and while she lived, often came to sit and look at them. The space is really wonderful. She found her perfect space, both within each painting and here, in the gallery, around them all. I don't have any photographs of those works, but I do have a photograph of a small reproduction of a Martin drawing from the same period (the photograph was taken with my camera -- the pen is there for scale --from the exhibition catalogue, along with the above quote, from Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, ed. Michael Auping, 1998: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas):

You can't see an Agnes Martin -- not really -- unless you are standing in front of it.  She doesn't reproduce well. There aren't many catalogues in existence. It's a rare thing, her work. There are painitngs of hers in the Tate, in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, at SFMOMA ... those are the ones I know about. Go and see her stuff.  Come to Taos and see this room. She's amazing.

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