Hayward Gallery, 2 March – 24 April 1977
By June 1976, when the Hayward Gallery decided to mount an exhibition of the American artist Agnes Martin’s paintings and drawings, Martin had not yet had a major exhibition in Europe, and few of her paintings had been seen in the UK.
The exhibition – which ran concurrently with exhibitions by British painter Ian Stephenson and American photographer Edward Weston – took place on the upper floor of the gallery.
Writing in the accompanying catalogue, the American critic Dore Ashton described Martin’s work as ‘emotionally precise ... executed with the greatest finesse. Their surfaces, almost veils of thinned acrylics, are full of vitality achieved with an economy of means that defies words’, while Martin herself stated that they are ‘about freedom from the cares of the world’.
This first major European showing of Agnes Martin’s work was enthusiastically received by the press. Many of the reviewers commented on the space in which the paintings were hung. Michael Shepherd stated that ‘The Hayward Gallery, which can on occasion look like a garrison for the defence of ego, is until April 24 transformed into a very contemporary temple of contemplation’.