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Leaf in the Wind, 1963

Agnes Martin

American, 1912-2004
Acrylic and graphite on canvas
75 x 75 x 7/8 in. (190.5 x 190.5 x 2.2 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Nicholas Wilder in memory of Jordan Hunter (1949-1968)
P.1969.103

Not on view

Agnes Martin moved to New York City when she was 20. There she painted still lifes and biomorphic forms until arriving at the sublime minimalism for which she is best known. With no interest in hard-edge abstraction or the optical experiments of many of her contemporaries, Martin instead took her cues from both the meditative forms of Mark Rothko and the spiritualism of Paul Klee. Leaf in the Wind is an exquisite example of Martin’s distillations of pure form. Delicate lines of graphite delineate a grid filled with rectangles, and her light touch encourages private contemplation rather than a mandate of strained concepts or ideas. A deep connection with nature eventually led Martin to New Mexico in 1967, into a hermit-like existence in her handmade adobe at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. A several-year hiatus from painting ended in the early 1970s, and she continued to paint luminous, holistic works like this one until her death at age 92.

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