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The Bow: Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin

Many are familiar with Agnes Martin speaking about Ellsworth Kelly’s action of bowing to his paintings as he would leave his studio and close the door.

A stunning image. Bowing to one’s paintings; like completing each brush stroke, following through so that there is not a ‘sloppy’ ending. With that bow, Kelly carried the completion of his brush strokes to the exist of his studio. This is evident in his work and quite silently underscores what he felt about his studio practice.

Agnes Martin talks in many of her writings about perfection. To visualize the work of Kelly and Martin; knowing their understanding of perfection, the completion of a brush stroke, on to bowing to a painting is to understand the sacred quality of an energy. The energy of a universe passing through the painter onto or into a space.

The actual studio practice is where the skillful means and wisdom of the painter reside. A  particular understanding that radiates from the works of Kelly and Martin.


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