Saturday, November 13, 2010

At Work (in Toronto)

The Rose 1964 Agnes Martin
I spent the entire day today at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The main exhibition (for me) was At Work - Agnes Martin, Eva Hesse and Betty Goodwin, up until January 2, 2011. These images don't really give an idea of Agnes Martin's work. Worse than reproductions in books they are google images as I didn't take any photos at the gallery (not allowed).

Twelve 72 inch square paintings, gesso, acrylic and pencil were installed in a large square room - all white or tones of palest aqua with horizontal lines spaced differently on each canvas. These were the ocean paintings, on loan from the whitney. Surrounded by them, I did feel as if I was looking out over the ocean, with just the horizon and my own thoughts huge within.

"The ocean is deathlesss
the islands rise and die
quietly come and go
a silently swaying breath"
Agnes Martin

Also on view was the rarely seen 1974 interview with Agnes Martin by Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horstfield. I sat and watched Agnes' gentle mouth move and tried very hard to hear her words but it was very difficult. I have read her mystical poetic writings however, so I felt I knew what she was saying.

For Eva, there were her cheesecloth and adhesive, cheesecloth and paper mache objects, laid out on a flat table. Other more famous pieces were displayed on walls

for Betty, there were her 50 years worth of notebooks, left to the AGO's archives when she died. Exhibited for the first time.

Agnes Martin is a key component of my dissertation, and it was a treat to be able to see fourteen of her original paintings, for real.

Also seen

The Julian Schnabel exhibit, which included the paintings made with broken dishes that I'd only seen previously in books, and his newer twenty foot high paintings. Gasp.
Shary Boyle's new work was in three spaces, full of metaphor and hours of labour. Shary was at the gallery and spoke about it. She impressed me (and about 150 others, all standing around the pieces in awe) with her articulate and passionate intelligence.

Thanks v much to Tim and Mary for the Art gallery of Ontario membership, activated today. I was not aware that I was so starved for real live art and not just reproductions.


  1. Oh I'm so happy for you! I was able to see some of her paintings in August at SFMOMA. Incredible. Meant to email you about it at the time but became busy getting back to Oz...then time flew by as it does.

  2. Hi Judy

    I saw this same exhibition on my way back home from New Brunswick. I was mainly interested in the Eva Hesse. Too bad there were such few pieces. I too really liked Martin`s work. How goes the battle ?

  3. mom would you suggest a trip to toronto specifically for this show? shary boyle's is coming to Montreal in January, but what about the hesse, martin, goodwin?
    can't believe you're going tomorrow! xoxoxx


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx