Dull And Repetitive: The Paintings Of Agnes Martin At Tate Modern

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 32 months ago
Dull And Repetitive: The Paintings Of Agnes Martin At Tate Modern ★☆☆☆☆ 1
On a few occasions there are works that aren't just grids, but these are few in number. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On a few occasions there are works that aren't just grids, but these are few in number. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
There are many of these pastel coloured striped works in the exhibition. © estate of Agnes Martin
There are many of these pastel coloured striped works in the exhibition. © estate of Agnes Martin
The gold leaf makes this shimmering piece one of the more eye catching works in the show. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The gold leaf makes this shimmering piece one of the more eye catching works in the show. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Her prints are very repetitive and best skipped. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Her prints are very repetitive and best skipped. © 2015 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Londonist Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Inspired by the likes of Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin created her signature minimalist style of paintings that focus on repeating patterns of stripes and grids. This retrospective brings together many of her works, but with a range that's broadly similar can this exhibition itself avoid being repetitive?

No. It's so chock full of stripes and grids that visitors will swear they've been in the same room twice while walking through the show — especially when they come across yet another pastel toned striped painting. These works may have been a meditative outlet for Martin, but they have little impact on us aside from reminding us of board games or graph paper and maths lessons.

There is a little more variety in her later works but many visitors will have lost interest by then, and it's nowhere near enough to salvage the show. Die hard fans of minimalism may enjoy this exhibition though, having said that, Martin never fancied herself a Minimalist and disliked the categorisation.

As a part of art history Agnes Martin certainly had a role to play but her works don't add any particular insight about her life. In a group show setting Martin's art may fare better but this solo retrospective is dull, repetitive and certainly not worth the ticket price.

Agnes Martin is on at Tate Modern until 11 October. Tickets are £12 for adults, concessions available. Also on at Tate Modern is the work of the colourful and multi-talented Sonia Delaunay. For more major exhibitions see our top 10 for June.

Last Updated 04 June 2015

Randi

Maybe do your homework a bit before you write about artists that you clearly know nothing about. And definitely keep your day job.

James Guppy

That was a point worth making. I suggest weighing each stool you produce and keeping a poo diary. The sense of harmony and control you experience should help you feel more balanced.

Artist, Painter

She dedicated around 40 to 50 years of pure hard work to life's most nuanced subjects, and feelings, and you expect to understand it within at most an hour of glancing around? I'd be amazed if the general public could ever understand her works, but please don't belittle them. She continuously made $80 worth of canvas and strainer bars into $1 million paintings WITHIN her lifetime. She must have been doing SOMETHING right. Obviously it wasn't the material or the means but what her eye and mind could see that others could not. Just give it a second look around and don't get hung up on the details. Bombs have been dropped that are worth more than her work, so don't fret the whole art-market, money, "bullshit", "my kid can do this" graph paper thing. It's just a little color and some silence, I think a lot of people today could use that. This is coming from someone who hated her work at first glance, but fell into love with it. Trust me, they are some of the most difficult works to understand but with time they are immensely rewarding. Ask yourself how you would make them differently? Watch how they look from afar and watch them as you walk closer and they deconstruct. What do you see in your mind as you look at them? They really are not about what they look like, but what they feel like and about watching your own experience of your mental/physical perception. They are big, big, big picture, and certainly not for everybody. She's important because she pushed abstraction to its furthest edge than anybody has ever done, with absolutely economical means. They are almost elemental, and mercilessly challenging. Take another shot.

El Ray

1 star? maybe you'd prefer a more gimmick friendly exhibition...