While Agnes Martin’s retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum is a testament to her legacy, the show also operates as a subtle celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of the museum. Portions of the exhibition originate from the Tate Modern in London's retrospective; the show then traveled around the world, making stops at LACMA and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf before reaching the Guggenheim. But because Martin’s work relies so heavily on the physical space of the viewer, the Guggenheim’s architecture has truly elevated her work to the level of a spiritual encounter.
Walking up the ramp, the spectator grows with Martin. The passage of time is articulated through the swirl of the museum, as the oldest works are located at the bottom of the rotunda and the rest of her oeuvre are positioned in chronological order. The shape of the Guggenheim dictates the experience of Martin’s work and explicitly makes evident the evolution of her artistic processes, conceptual intentions, and emotional state.
Agnes Martin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 7, 2016–January 11, 2017. Photo: David Heald