Presentation includes works gifted to Dia since museum's opening, highlighting first phase of Martin's career, 1957-67

Apr 21, 2004

Agnes Martin: "...unknown territory..." Paintings from the 1960s

New York, NY -On view at Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries beginning Sunday, May 16, 2004 through April 18, 2005, "…going forward into unknown territory…" juxtaposes a group of early Agnes Martin paintings gifted to Dia since the museum's opening with a selection of signature works from the 1960s. Executed between 1957 and 1960, these rarely seen transitional paintings evidence Martin's formative period of experimentation that led to her renowned grid works. This special presentation, which marks the first anniversary of Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries, is the first in a series of temporary exhibitions at the museum.

"…going forward into unknown territory…" traces Martin's artistic evolution, beginning in the late 1950s with works whose origins lie in memories of nature-notably, of vast expanses of the landscape or the night sky. These early canvases introduce a spare vocabulary of simplified geometric shapes rendered in translucent shades of pale beiges, grays, and creams. Other works are more reductively geometric, as seen in an untitled painting with a vertical orientation from 1959: into the thickly and smoothly applied white paint, a grid has been sharply incised. By contrast, Martin's works from the early sixties, which employ her preferred six-foot-square format, manifest the grid in an extraordinary repertoire of ways, as she sought to create works which could evoke such abstract emotions as happiness, innocence, and exultation. Toward the mid-sixties, when she shifted from oil to acrylic paint, her works become increasingly refined, their surfaces shimmering and luminous, as seen in The Beach and The Peach (both 1964).

"…going forward into unknown territory…" will be installed within a trio of newly expanded and reconfigured galleries devoted to Martin's work at Dia:Beacon. A brochure with color images of Martin's paintings and an essay by curator Lynne Cooke will accompany the exhibition.

Dia Art Foundation's collection of Agnes Martin's work comprises some twenty paintings, which range from her formative works to recent canvases. Dia has received promised gifts and long-term loans from a variety of sources, including Lannan Foundation, Louise and Leonard Riggio, the artist, and anonymous donors. Among the highlights of these gifts is the Innocent Love series, a nine-part suite of paintings made specifically for Dia, on long-term loan from Lannan Foundation.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin was born in Macklin, in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1912. She grew up in Vancouver, then moved to Bellingham, Washington, in 1932. Martin gained a BA and MA from the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1942, while living intermittently in New Mexico. In 1957 she relocated to Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan. Martin had her first one-person exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1958. Surveys of her work have been presented at venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (1973), the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1991), and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1992). Martin continues to live and work in Taos, New Mexico.

Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries
Dia:Beacon, Dia Art Foundation's new museum, presents a distinguished collection of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, the museum occupies a 300,000-square-foot former Nabisco box-printing facility, which was renovated by Dia with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice.

Dia:Beacon's expansive galleries comprise 240,000 square feet of exhibition space illuminated by natural light. The museum presents a vast range of works by a focused group of some of the most significant artists of the last half century, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner.

Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia plays a vital role among visual arts organizations nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism. Dia presents its permanent collection at Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries, in Beacon, New York; exhibitions and public programming at Dia:Chelsea, in New York City (currently closed for renovations); and long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island.

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For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, press@diaart.org or 212 293 5518

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