Letter from Agnes Martin

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Dear Arnold,

I had to write this letter and I am very glad because I think it will help them to

stop hating me for trying to put out their light.

If we are on the side of life we have to here and there contest the things of pride.

Very much obliged for your help in having them receive this.

  Agnes.

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Open letter to the

Whitney Museum of American Art.

We live a short time in this life and then we die and are gone from it without a trace, like last summers’ leaves. Anyone familiar with inspiration knows that this is true.

As all sages of all times have remarked, we live without possessions and without achievement. To live truly and effectively the idea of achievement must be given up.

When we venture on the path of truth and beauty we open the door to truth. We soon realize that life, truth, beauty and reality are all the same, and to recognize them we must personally stand aside. To insure inspiration we must live as modestly in every way as we can. The idea of fame is a hazzard and an embarrassment because it is not real. It is not about real life.

The idea of achievement is based on the error of thinking that we own and are creating the world. I am sure that you realize that is simply an idea of pride. The world evolved because of the life that moves through all living things, called inspiration. It is the incentive to greater awareness of life. If we give life the credit for our expression we are alright, but if we take credit ourselves saying that it is personal expression we are in defiance of life. This defiance is illustrated in the writing of the last years in the lives of Walt Whitman and Niechie. They defied life in this way and became paralized and senile.

I wanted to write a catalogues that would not give credit to artists or the work, because they are not real. Only the response is real. (That which does not change is real). The work is preserved because of the response. IF the response is one of greater awareness of beauty and reality the work will be very carefully preserved.

Your attention to my work was encouraging and I further thank you for your attention to this letter.

Agnes Martin

Galisteo New Mexico 87540

Feb. 6 1981

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