Disappearance from the art world

01/01/1967View on timeline

"I didn't know where to go," Martin says.
"So I drove around for a year and a half through America and the north of Canada."

—Benita Eisler, on her 1993 New Yorker profile of Agnes Martin

In the summer of 1967, she left New York so suddenly that many friends were unaware that she had gone. A few days before she set out, she appeared, unannounced, at the old Pace Gallery, at 9 West Fifty-seventh Street. The director, Arnold Glimcher, has been Martin's friend and dealer now for eighteen years, but he did not represent her at the time. Glimcher was surprised to see her and astounded to learn why she had come. "She had brought all her art materials she could carry—brushes, canvases, strechers—and asked me to give them away to young artists," Glimcher recalls. "Then she just disappeared."

—Benita Eisler, on her 1993 New Yorker profile of Agnes Martin

Life Lines, by Benita Eisler

Agnes Martin Road Trip – Original Score by Actress


So in 1968 she called me one day and she said, ‘You’re a young gallery and you have a lot of young artists and I’d like to give you my brushes and my paints and you can give them to young people, and I have some rolls of canvas.’ So she put them in her truck, bought them to the gallery, and took off for New Mexico. She said, ‘I’ve finished painting I’m never painting again.’ I didn’t see her for five years. (...) She had a very bad psychotic episode, and was in the hospital for a while. She felt that she had painted everything that she could paint. And I think she needed to go back to New Mexico, to that kind of space and solitude. New York was not good for her. I don’t think she could cope with it, and more than anything I don’t think she could cope with the notoriety that she was starting to gain. One of the things that she always said was that one of the worst sins — not in a religious sense — was the sin of pride, and I think she became slightly prideful, of the community embracing her, and she couldn’t cope with it.

—Arne Glimcher, her friend and biographer, talking about Agnes Martin

She had a very bad psychotic episode, and was in the hospital for a while. She felt that she had painted everything that she could paint. And I think she needed to go back to New Mexico, to that kind of space and solitude. New York was not good for her. I don’t think she could cope with it, and more than anything I don’t think she could cope with the notoriety that she was starting to gain. One of the things that she always said was that one of the worst sins — not in a religious sense — was the sin of pride, and I think she became slightly prideful, of the community embracing her, and she couldn’t cope with it.

-- Arne Glimcher, talking about Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin: philosopher, artist, pioneer, recluse

Agnes Martin: Arne Glimcher in conversation with Frances Morris


When she was later asked, "Were you aware that the art world considered you to have spent a decade in New York making masterful paintings?" Martin replied, "Yes, I thought I had, too... I thought I had already made them so I could leave."

—Nancy Princenthal, on her book Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art

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Published in 15/03/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Life:


Invalid DateBirthBirth
Invalid DateMoved to VancouverMoved to Vancouver
Invalid DateTeaching Certificate
Invalid DateFather's death
Invalid DateHigh School Graduation
Invalid DateMultiple jobsMultiple jobs
Invalid DateMoved to New Mexico
Invalid DateReturn to New York
Invalid DateReturn to New MexicoReturn to New Mexico
Invalid DateDeath