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Off-Campus: Beyond the Grid

In this weekly feature, we will share our ideas for what you can do “off-campus” while the museum is closed. This week’s entry comes from Anna Rogulina, Vassar College class of 2011 and Art Center student docent.

Agnes Martin in Taos, New Mexico, where she lived and worked until her death on December 16, 2004. Photo: Charles R. Rushton

I have often stood in front of Agnes Martin’s Harvest (1965) with tour groups as well as with my own family members and friends and watched their puzzled faces as they cautiously approached the work, squinting, in an attempt to figure out what all the “fuss” was about. “Well, it’s just a grid” is not an uncommon first reaction. And a grid it is. Much like the rest of Martin’s work, Harvest relies on simple geometry. It is a beige canvas covered in crossing horizontal and vertical lines drawn methodically in graphite. But, to reduce the work to this simple description is to do it a huge injustice. Same goes for trying to reproduce it on a piece of a paper or a computer screen. It is the kind of work that needs to be experienced. It demands something of the viewer: time and a second look (quite possible, a third and a forth too).

With the Art Center temporarily closed, Harvest is unavailable for view. Luckily, it’s not necessary to venture far from the Vassar campus to see the art of Agnes Martin and crack through its minimalist exterior. Dia:Beacon has a tremendous holding of Martin’s paintings, as well as works of her contemporaries including Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Louise Bourgeois, and many others. This Saturday, September 25 at 2 PM, Jenelle Porter, a curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, will deliver a Gallery Talk to shed light on Agnes Martin and help us understand just why her work has been hailed as “classical perfection”, “ahead of its time”, and “timeless”.

Gallery Talks are part of regular programming at Dia:Beacon and take place on last Saturdays of every month and are free with museum admission. The complete calendar can be found here. Definitely worth checking out!

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