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Title: Agnes Martin : painting as making and its relation to contemporary practice
Author: Phelps, Sharon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 331X
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2017
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Can nuances of surface – by drawing the viewer close – offer contemplative experience, and enable art-making methods to be better understood? I investigate Agnes Martin’s methods, which are available to those looking carefully at her paintings, focusing on the late 1950s and early 60s. Her constructions of materials found near her New York studio have received little critical attention in existing writing, despite their pivotal role in the development of her grid paintings. I re-enacted some of her methods, and adopted some of the elements that I observed in her artworks from this period, in order to better understand the relationship between found objects in these works and the marks and lines within later paintings and drawings. I focused on the particular quality of attention Martin devoted to marks, materials and surfaces, both in her work and in her working environment; this involved analysing and attempting to follow her ‘contemplative’ approach (see Chapter 2). A practical analysis extended the understanding of Martin’s methods and the effects of local North American influences, and resulted in a new body of layered and two-sided artworks, described throughout this thesis. This investigation of her meditative methods and how the field of painting can include objects and sculpture relates for the first-time Martin’s attitude toward making with some artists who are working today (see Chapters 7 and 8). It also adds to existing scholarship on Martin by comparing her surfaces’ demand for closeness (see Chapter 9) with the participatory practices of Lygia Clark and Gego in South America (see Chapter 10). Mondrian’s influence is thereby traced in separate but parallel lines of abstraction. This thesis’ main contribution is a new workshop methodology (see Chapter 12) as a guide for those who wish to research an artist and their methods. The methodology offers a discursive structure within which to investigate art practice through new practice. The presentation of new artworks in participatory workshops in an exhibition setting invites discussion about art-making methods, emphasising the role of practice in the artistic research process. New artworks were offered to be hand-held by the viewer, and this invitation to attend closely was accompanied by art-making and dialogue around practice. The responses I gathered from participants indicate that this type of active engagement can disseminate tacit knowledge and offer experience of a contemplative approach.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Art ; Painting