Fine Art

SHE’S SO NINETIES Houston’s Menil Collection celebrates the ninetieth birthday of minimalist painter Agnes Martin this month with an exhibit of about 35 of her works, all created in the past nine years. Aptly titled “The Nineties and Beyond,” the installation, on view from February 1 through May 26, will be shown exclusively at the Menil. Martin was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1912, and in 1950 she became a U.S. citizen. After years in New York as a struggling artist, followed by travels around the country in a pickup truck and a motor home, Martin settled permanently in New Mexico, near Taos, where she still works daily in her remote studio. Those familiar with Martin know that despite her Southwest connection, her paintings—most of them luminously painted five-foot-square canvases delicately patterned with precise horizontal or vertical graphite lines—are far from the coyote-howling-at-the-moon brand of art coveted by the typical Santa Fe tourist. In fact, many fans of Martin, who was a student of Zen Buddhism and Taoism, revere her paintings as objects of meditation. Says Ned Rifkin, the exhibit’s curator and the former director of the Menil: “These works emanate a calm spirituality that is particularly welcome in these troubled times.” (See Houston: Museums and Galleries .)

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