what I'm reading: Agnes Martin and Me

The book itself is a lovely thing - I like the paper, the print type, the cover image, the photos within. While photographer Donald Woodman is not a superior writer, I appreciated this brief memoir detailing the 7 years he was in a difficult friendship with artist Agnes Martin.

What I like about this book is that it brings Martin to earth; it makes her a complex, complicated person rather than a larger-than-life, mystical, Zen-like sage shrouded in mystery - a story that the art world continues to build around her. Much of what I've read about Agnes makes her seem unobtainable, super-human, even.

Woodman's story made her real - a woman struggling terribly with mental illness while managing to create beautiful, incredible art. In other books and articles I've read that she left New York and settled out in the middle of nowhere in Santa Fe on her own and built a house and studio with her bare hands. I've read of her fierce independence and absolute solitude and wondered if such a life could be possible.

According to Woodman, she lived on his land and he built these structures for her, and that she relied on him often for various forms of help and an odd form of detached friendship. Her mental illness, it seems, made it difficult for her to be too close to anyone.

This is not a great book, but for anyone interested in Agnes Martin it is a must-read.

Agnes Martin and Me by Donald Woodman

Agnes Martin and Me by Donald Woodman