Some time ago, at the Barn, my good friend Robin F said that we should make time to go see the Agnes Martin retrospective at the Guggenheim. I promptly forgot about it and luckily got an email from her inviting me to join her in Manhattan for two days. I was reluctant- I was feeling down about the election, was thinking that I had to spend more time in my studio, and was wanting to cut myself off from everyone and hibernate. Luckily Robin persisted and I threw caution to the wind and bought my Amtrak ticket.
We managed to arrive on the rainiest and windiest day of the season and were promptly soaked to the bone, yet we happily camped out at the Guggenheim for about 3 hours. The exhibit was amazing- especially for Robin whose palette and tendencies are similar to Martin's. I will not review the exhibit here except to say it is a must see if you like her work. It is not for everyone, but I was quite moved by her ability to work a format and motif to the max.
Agnes Martin fascinated both of us since she was an extremely focused artist- living alone in New Mexico for many years at the height of her fame. She was self critical and actually burned most of the work she produced in her first 44 years. She suffered from bouts of schizophrenia and yet she maintains in a marvelous video we watched that she worked from a happy place, not letting depression seep into her life. While I am not sure I believe her, I do think she was motivated to make things of great beauty.
And that got Robin and me talking about how we work and what influences us.
As you may know I work from emotions. I need some emotional component to get me going and I have a hard time just making beautiful things. It is one of the reasons that I have had little to show after this summer. Well, the election did change that and I am finished piecing a large quilt that shows exactly how I felt the morning after.
Robin is quite the opposite. She is able to make beautiful art without outside emotional influences. She does not need crisis, conflict or anxiety to get her creating. In that I think she is lucky. She is much closer to Martin than I am. We both marveled how completely differently we approach our art- both valid in my opinion.
My brief trip to NYC included a stop at the Cooper Hewitt to see an exhibit in up cycling materials which was just ok, and two amazing shows at the Gaggosian Gallery. One show was Picasso's Picassos- a collection of never before seen paintings that are owned by one of the master's daughters.
Art does have the power to heal. I believe that. And sometimes seeing beauty is the only thing that will make us feel even a little better. Spending time with a good friend, actually two good friends both named Robin, cleared my head and allowed me to get back to work. And even though I am pushed by darker forces than others, I am heartened that their are artists like Agnes and Robin that are fortunate to make beauty for beauty's sake.