Agnes Bernice Martin (March 22, 1912 – December 16, 2004) was an American abstract painter known for her minimalist style and abstract expressionism. Born in Canada, she moved to the United States in 1931, where she pursued higher education and eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1950. Martin's artistic journey began in New York City, where she immersed herself in modern art and developed a deep interest in abstraction. Despite often being labeled a minimalist, she identified more with abstract expressionism. Her work has been defined as an "essay in discretion on inward-ness and silence".
Growing up in rural Canada and influenced by the New Mexico desert, Martin's art was characterized by serene compositions featuring grids and lines. Her works were predominantly monochromatic, employing subtle colors like black, white, and brown. Martin's minimalist approach conveyed tranquility and spirituality, and her paintings often carried positive names reflective of her philosophy.
Her career included numerous exhibitions, totaling over 85 solo shows, and participation in major events such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta. Martin's work earned recognition for its unique contribution to contemporary art, and she received awards like the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998. She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2004.
Despite personal struggles with schizophrenia, Martin's dedication to her art persisted, and her legacy continues to inspire contemporary artists. Documentaries and films have explored her life and work, shedding light on her artistic process and impact. Beyond the art world, her influence extends to popular culture, as seen in a Google doodle and a song dedicated to her. Martin's artistic vision, blending minimalism and spirituality, remains an enduring and influential force in the realm of abstract art.