Categories
Art

From the Collection–Agnes Martin’s “Untitled #10”

Agnes Martin. Untitled #10, 1977. Gesso, India ink, and graphite on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art. Photo credit Dedra Walls. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Agnes Martin. Untitled #10, 1977. Gesso, India ink, and graphite on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art. Photo credit Dedra Walls. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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.

But then I got a job as a docent at my college’s art museum, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. I gave tours, but I also spent a lot of time in the galleries at the docent’s table, where we waited for visitors to ask us questions (and maybe did some homework when things were slow). The table was situated right across from their Martin, The Harvest (1965). Being forced to look at this painting nearly every day, at least for a few minutes before a visitor approached me, completely changed the way I viewed Agnes Martin’s work. The Harvest, with its imperfect grid and odd “T” in the corner, became a quirky friend I saw each week–a comforting presence away from papers and tests.

But I’d never spent any long, uninterrupted time with an Agnes Martin. Seeking some quiet time away from my email inbox this past week, I wandered past Milwaukee’s Agnes Martin painting and then stopped and turned around.

It was time for a 45-minute slow look at Untitled #10.

Categories
Education

Painting-ish

Milton Resnick, East Is the Place, 1959. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Wise, New York. Photo credit John Nienhuis. © Estate of Milton Resnick.
Milton Resnick, East Is the Place, 1959. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Wise, New York. Photo credit John Nienhuis. © Estate of Milton Resnick.
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.”

Categories
Art

Abstract Expressionist Stamps—Get Yours Now

U.S. Postal Service “Abstract Expressionist” Stamps

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.