Agnes Martin’s work can be tricky, all lines and grids and pale neutrals. It used to make me wonder, what’s the big deal? Pencil marks and a wash of color—not so impressive. I chalked it up to those nutty Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists, divorcing themselves from the real world and delving into a world I didn’t know how to get into.
I recently received an email from a great cheerleader for art: “My four-year-old granddaughter is very proud of her colorful, free-spirited artwork. As a result she was devastated when her five-year-old friend told her that her work is just a bunch of scribbles and brush strokes. I would greatly appreciate your recommendation for two to three specific modern art paintings I can show her that will demonstrate the appeal of modern art. She will be visiting us and I want our visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum to be one she will really enjoy.”
Perhaps I was the only one that immediately dropped everything and ran to the post office, but I wasn’t the only mail-sending art lover thrilled with the U.S. Postal Service’s latest stamps. In March, the USPS released a sheet honoring American “Abstract Expressionist” painters. These ten artists, some of the greatest of the twentieth century, moved the United States to the forefront of the international art scene (for the first time) in the 1950s. We have many of their works on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum.