Agnes Martin's Beautiful Marks
When looking at paintings and drawings, the subject of touch sometimes comes up. Touch is an interesting part of artwork, and the least talked about. It does not refer to pictorial content, color, or composition -- which, I think are the usual and most discussed aspects of an artwork. Touch is something entirely different than these things. Touch refers to that beautiful relationship between the artist's body and the canvas or drawing surface. It is so ephemeral, and yet it informs so much about the way an artwork feels, what is says, and why it is interesting.
Touch is especially important in the works for Agnes Martin, and in particular her grid works, like this one Composition #147. After her move to New Mexico from New York City in 1967, Agnes mostly focused on paintings using a grid format in different configurations. These artworks are repetitive and regular in composition have a meditative vibe, like looking at the sea. The consistency of Agnes' touch adds to this as well.
Looking up close to her grid works, you can see inconsistencies in the mark due to a small shake of the hand or the weight put behind the pencil. It is these changes and variations that gives the canvas life and a glimpse of Agnes herself and our shared humanity.
While her grid paintings seem simple, they are complex pieces that invite a deeper conversation. All good art should do that, I think.