Urgent Museum Notice

The Wall #2

Close up of The Wall #2

Painting with nine by twenty-six grids formed by pencil on a textured, gray background. Tiny silver nail heads hug the top and bottom of each section. Exact in design, the effect is one of imperfection as the lines are not perfectly straight and the nails do not totally line up.

Agnes Martin, The Wall #2, 1962; Oil on canvas, mounted on board with nails, 10 x 10 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2012 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Wall #2
Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin is renowned for her paintings and prints of grids drawn with faint lines and sometimes filled in with pale, airy colors.

Martin’s aesthetic is spare, but she differed from her Minimalist contemporaries who typically left little trace of their touch in their artworks. Strokes or drips of pigment are often visible, and, characteristically, the drawn lines in The Wall #2 waver slightly. Because of their visible handwork, edge-to-edge format, and spiritual content, Martin viewed her art works as closely related to abstract expressionism.

The steady rhythm of the dot-dash pattern in The Wall #2 (formed by pencil lines and tiny nail heads) communicates a meditative sensibility. Martin was influenced by Taoist and Zen Buddhist thought, which became increasingly popular in America in the 1950s and 1960s.

Akin to these belief systems, Martin sought to create imagery that would evoke the feelings of reverie that humans experience when they let their minds drift from the distractions of the physical world. Martin explained: “When people go to the ocean, they like to see it all day…I want to draw a certain response like this…when people leave themselves behind [and] experience simple joy.”

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Agnes Martin
  • Title

    The Wall #2
  • Date

  • Medium

    Oil and graphite on canvas, mounted on board with nails
  • Dimensions

    10 x 10 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    © 2012 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • On Display