Agnes Martin Red Bird 1964

  • Not on view

Martin is often associated with Minimalism on the basis of her interest in geometry and repetition. Yet while Minimalists stripped art of emotion, she sought qualities such as innocence and joy in her paintings, asserting that “beauty and happiness and life…are [the artist’s] only concern….They are perfect and sublime. This is the subject matter of art.” In this sense, she was in harmony with the Abstract Expressionists. Around 1964, Martin heightened the translucent nature of her work by switching from oils to acrylic paints. With considerable additions of water, acrylics allowed her to layer a series of translucent washes of color without the yellow effect of thinned oils. In Red Bird, she inscribed a faint grid in red colored pencil over a subtly washed ground. The grid’s tremulous lines cause it to appear to gently vibrate in space. To promote such effects, Martin never used more than two coats of priming or sanded her surfaces smooth.

Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017
Colored ink and pencil on paper
12 1/4 x 11 7/8" (31.1 x 30.4 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Bliss Parkinson
Object number
© 2024 Estate of Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].