Join us for an illustrated lecture on “Becoming Agnes Martin,” by Suzanne Hudson, Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. It is co-sponsored by University of Notre Dame Departments of American Studies, Gender Studies, Art, Art History & Design, and the Snite Museum of Art.
After a decade in New York, and seemingly at the height of her career, Agnes Martin left the city in September 1967. She traveled for two years before settling on a remote New Mexican mesa, building a house by hand, and living in relative if by no means total isolation for the remainder of her long years. She made no art until 1973, when she completed a monumental screenprint suite; it was only then that she erected a studio and, shortly thereafter, got back to painting. She also began constructing in earnest the persona of “Agnes Martin” that we have received as something like historical truth. In this talk, I instead frame Martin’s becoming Martin in the 1970s as a willful, even calculated, act of self-fashioning that included the creation and destruction of paintings and extended to the issuance of writings and gnomic statements about beauty, studio work, and abstract emotion. I further ask what this achieved and suggest how it might become a model through which to think issues of writing, curating, and narrating the subjects of art history who served, firstly and emphatically, as their own primary interpreters.
Suzanne Hudson is currently Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, where she also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for Art History. She is an art historian and critic who writes on modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on abstraction, painting, process, creativity, pedagogy, and American philosophy as it intersects with aesthetics and institutional discourses. She is co-founder of the Contemporary Art Think Tank and the Society of Contemporary Art Historians, an affiliate society of the College Art Association, for which she currently serves as President Emerita and Chair of the Executive Committee. She is a member of the Editorial Board of CAA.Reviews and the Advisory Board of the Archives of American Art Journal.
Originally published at sniteartmuseum.nd.edu.